Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Karen O & The Kids – All Is Love

No it isn’t…


Kat Stevens: A man in bright orange trousers is about to take me by the hand and lead me off over a grassy knoll covered in oversized daisies for some mandatory fun involving clapping. I feel like Wednesday Addams at Camp Chippewa.

Michaelangelo Matos: Oh, Karen. I was so taken with you this year. It’s Blitz! is one of the few rock albums I actually want to listen to lately, your band was one of the few decent things I saw at a typically unsatisfying outdoor festival during Memorial Day weekend, and if I always found the post-Bowie shtick kind of thin, the SNL appearance reversed that. You seemed so giddy, and it transferred beautifully. This is giddy, too. It is also a grating mess, about ten times more precious than anyone needs, formless and shapeless and bratty and tepid. Its cutie-pie-ness is offensive. Please, no more fingerpainting.

Alex Ostroff: Loose, spirited and ramshackle, Karen O’s work for Where the Wild Things Are is closer in spirit perhaps to Fever to Tell than her mannered and controlled performances on this year’s It’s Blitz!. That Wild Things fails to reach that album’s heights is perhaps an indicator of how far she’s come. The film’s greatest strength was its ability to evoke both the joy and terror of childhood, and “All is Love” captures the exuberance of youth, but does so through a fog of nostalgia. While tracks like “Worried Shoes” could use some of the joy present here, “All is Love” lacks their fear, and thereby any weight.

Ian Mathers: It’s just as well Karen O’s day job has made the best record of their career this year, because seemingly everything else she touches is going bad faster than unrefrigerated dairy (her contribution to the new Flaming Lips, for example, is a particularly bad spot on an already dire album). This is at least lightweight and inoffensive (unless you really hate sub-Beatles hippy love bullshit, or kids) as opposed to wince-inducing, but if “All Is Love” is indicative of the levels of “whimsy” found in Where the Wild Things Are, then I’m glad I haven’t seen it yet.

John Seroff: Poorly arranged, tin-eared toybox trawling spiked with the salty aluminum aftertaste of off-brand canned green beans and the atmosphere of a basement in The Gap. Whatever innate exuberance lies in the shrieking child’s voice that’s intended to uplift this post-Raffi-lite marshmallow is quashed by layer after layer of babyfood gumption and puerile desperation. As subtle as a Care Bear and just as deep.

Chuck Eddy: So she’s officially the new Kimya now, right? Sign me up for the backlash; I’m so ready. (P.S.: Still haven’t seen the movie. Plan to soon.) (P.P.S.: At least Kimya has a sense of humor.)

Anthony Easton: I am such a fucking sap, but the movie made me cry, and the song makes me think about my folks breaking up, and my dad leaving, and not knowing where to go — the film is so much about that, and the wild rambunctiousness has a hope for completion, and a desire for a manic release. It’s manipulative, in the sense that it knows which signifiers it is reaching for, and is shameless in doing the digging to find them

Spencer Ackerman: So beautiful and joyous I want to cry. A whistled bridge! I get the feeling that Karen sometimes wants to be in the Arcade Fire.

Anthony Miccio: The Danielson Famile should sue. We all should.

Dave Moore: If y’all really want to dupe yourselves into an infantile nostalgia coma for some other generation’s kid-media touchstones so bad (NB: the 1973 version of Where the Wild Things Are is a breezy six minutes with a better musical score), why not just listen to Radio Disney? OH WAIT, because RD’s current rising stars are Owl City and they wouldn’t touch this stuff with a ten-foot pole.

Alfred Soto: The soundtrack’s coup is a painstaking Daniel Johnston cover, but the rest of its topographic analysis of childhood has a certain fidelity if you think that its indie-rock designers have an inordinate obsession with the subject in their respective bands anyway. Karen O spelling out words in a parched high register isn’t so different from the ridiculous nu-Goth of her Yeah Yeah Yeahs persona. I don’t like acoustic singalongs though.

Mallory O’Donnell: There is a fine line between making music for children and making music at them. Karen O stumbles over it, and I wonder if that isn’t Carole King quickly pulling her foot back and affecting an innocent grin. Where the latter spent equal time with her efforts for folks both tall and small, this sounds like it was dashed off in an afternoon. Easy come, easy go.

Keane Tzong: Well, I guess it successfully captures the essence of the movie.

4 Responses to “Karen O & The Kids – All Is Love”

  1. I get the feeling that Karen sometimes wants to be in the Arcade Fire.

    I don’t think I’ll read anything more horrifying on TSJ this year.

  2. Try switching the proper nouns.

  3. “oo gurl u nasty”

    I did not expect an [8] to go with that sentence either though.

  4. i was thinking and what this really sounds like is what you would get if Karen O were Mao and she was holding a children’s choir and an orchestra at gunpoint to make them play The Glorious People’s of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Anthem.