I probably could have used Karen O’s Crush Songs, when I was about 24 and going through my own rough break up and thinking I would never love again. It is a perfect addition to any indie rock and hipster music collection.
The singer, best known as the leading lady for the rock band, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, has created a simple, yet emotionally charged solo album. Her debut as a solo artist is merely her soft and sometimes scratchy vocals over an acoustic guitar, but it is clear these songs are very personal to the artist. She does, however, cover, “Indian Summer,” by The Doors on track 12, but she is able to make it her own without butchering it.
“They are the sound track to what was an ever continuing love crusade. I hope they keep you company on yours,” the singer writes, on the inside cover of the album.
This is break up music. This is crying in the shower, watching Lifetime with a pint of ice cream, music. Most of the songs are brief and straight to the point and many times the hushed strumming of acoustic guitar is over powered by the whiney female vocals. Sometimes the whining is a bit much, like in, “Beast,” and the unnecessary shrieking in, “Body,” but mostly, it is appropriate.
The vibe remains pretty much the same until the final few songs, where she begins to cheer up a little. Track 13, “Sunset Sun,” is where the mood shifts. Around mid-album, in, “Other Side,” some percussion can be heard in the background, although it sounds a little like someone banging on a screen door. One of the best, strongest songs on the whole album is still during her mourning period, “Day Go By.” This song has a stronger melody and is much catchier than the rest of the songs, by far. Although it seems to randomly end.
Listening to, Crush Songs, you experience all the stages of grief. It tells a vivid story of her journey, from the early stages of a break up to learning to live and love again. The music starts out in complete agony, with whining and a sort of quiet moaning, before the mood goes through a period of numbness and defeat. Eventually the songs come back to life, just as she probably had. It is powerful and inspirational, even though the songs are quiet and not entirely complicated. Less is more, in this case.