A meticulous and dull soundscape
It’s common knowledge that most music that makes it to wide release is somewhere in the range of “okay.” Every so often a terrible album slips through the cracks unchecked, or an excellent album rises, unmolested, into the public consciousness, but in general “okay” is good enough. Karen O and Danger Mouse have consistently found themselves rising above the mediocrity of the music industry throughout their long careers, and when they came together to create Lux Prima they made a lush, verdant soundscape, full of nothing.
It’s important to notice that Danger Mouse actually has his name on the record, putting him on equal footing with Karen O. Without commenting on how producers are almost always given the short end of the stick despite being the main architects of an artists sound, it showcases him as a producer worth naming. Looking out over his past work on classic pop, hip-hop and rock albums, it’s no surprise we see his name here. But it creates the expectation that this will just sound like a by the numbers Danger Mouse record, an expectation that is ultimately fulfilled as O and Danger Mouse romp through the early aughts, recreating the very same indie rock sounds that made them famous.
This isn’t to say that the whole record is a waste, there are interesting moments like “Turn The Light” which blends twinkling synth with a groovy bass to create modern day disco magic, and “Ministry” which takes a softer, more cinematic approach than the rest of the record. But most of the album is relegated to being a nostalgic mish-mash of sounds. It’s not bad; it’s just something we’ve all heard before, and this album doesn’t do anything to justify showing us this sound yet again.
It may be unfair to expect music to mean something, and sure, genres like dance and electronic, in many cases, only aim to sound nice. But there’s something about Lux Prima that feels as though it is reaching to make you feel more, and it just never gets there. All the sad chords and glistening synths can only mean so much when all that exists is a pleasant dream to get lost in.