Karen O - 2014
When it comes to Crush Songs, there are one or two points I’d like to make, if I may . . .
It’s Charming! This album bursts with longing! The songs are short and the sentiments are sweet. Thankfully, these delightful sketches weren’t dressed up to be something they are not. They are somewhere between demos and poems. The handwritten lyrics and drawings of lovers with limbs all entwined only add to the endearing nature of this record. But most of all, it’s here where Orzolek hangs up her infamous scream and sits down on her bed to sing. She opens up and doesn’t worry if anyone’s listening.
It’s a Gift! Listening to Crush Songs is like reading a page of someone’s diary. It’s a long lost Love Letter or better yet, a note of affection scribbled on a scrap of college ruled paper. These songs are private and special. Not to mention, on sale at a reasonable price.
It’s Brave! Don’t forget, this is Karen O’s debut solo album. As a member of the indie rock elite, she could have easily released a grammy ready album with an army of guest vocalists and a whole host of A list producers. But no, it was this fragile time capsule that she sent out into the world for all to see. Theses songs were not written for public consumption. They were never meant to see the light of day. Surely, those are the best! Think of all the secret songs written by our songwriting heroes that are hidden away from prying eyes. “She respects us enough to forget us and that takes courage.”
It’s Yours! These songs are presented in their raw form. This allows the listener to imagine what this album could be if it was performed by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. How would they sound with string arrangements? You can change the narrative by pretending that these songs are based on a single crush as opposed to many. It’s a different story when read that way.
It’s Mine! Common complaints about this album include the recording quality which is lo-fi indeed. However, I’ve always loved delta blues recordings that are scratchy and old. I still have a soft spot for Devendra Banhart’s Oh Me, Oh My which was recorded on a broken four track. I appreciate the intimacy and immediacy of Crush Songs. It’s So Real and you have no choice as the listener but to look it straight in the eyes. Personally, I am a songwriter who currently resides somewhere between sabbatical and retirement but I have hundreds of snapshot recordings that have a similar presence to the ones on Crush Songs. They live in towering shoe boxes at the back of the basement. Listening to this album reminds me of the time I spent alone in various rooms writing and recording without fear. The difference is of course, that Karen is a brilliant songwriter and I wouldn’t dream of sharing my early songs with anyone!
PS After all these years, I’m still a sucker for a hidden track.C. Scott Back
C. Scott ranks this as the
#10 favorite album of 2014