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Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O’s solo work ‘Crush Songs’ adds up to very little

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Do we really want a raw and real Karen O? After listening to Crush Songs, we’re not so sure anymore.
Smith Galtney

Two stars

Karen O Crush Songs

A collection of really short songs recorded in very private moments between 2006 and 2010, Karen O’s new album is basically a mixtape, complete with doodle artwork and handwritten liner notes that explain it’s from a period when “I crushed out a lot … I wasn’t sure I’d ever fall in love again.” It’s raw, it’s real, it’s honest. But that doesn’t mean you’ll actually want to listen to it.

It’s no secret that O has her cutesy side. Outside of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the band that made her famous, she’s left the heavy eyeliner and punk noise aside to sing children’s ditties for Spike Jonze movies. The worst moments on Crush Songs, like “King,” a precious ode to Michael Jackson, give you the impression she’s performing in front of her stuffed animals. When she opens “Native Korean Rock,” the set’s closer, by stating, “Growing up in these modern times ain’t easy” in an annoyingly winsome voice, you’re thankful she at least decided to wrap it up in just 26 minutes. But even that brevity is a handicap, since better moments like “Day Go By” don’t have room to root before getting interrupted by another minute-long sketch barely even trying to be a song.

Crush Songs makes you nostalgic for the pre-Internet days, when record companies relegated this sort of stuff to box sets and bonus discs. We don’t need another friend asking us to listen to their naked demos. We need a real Karen O album, thank you.

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