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Yeah Yeah Yeahs' singer scores
a magical soundtrack

Karen O And The Kids –
Where The Wild Things Are: Motion Picture Soundtrack

(Interscope Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: April 30, 2010
Karen O

Review by Tony Bonyata

Pablo Picasso once said "All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up."

Karen O has this figured out.

She's been fronting the NYC indie rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs for the last 10 years with all the irrepressible energy, wide-eyed optimism and unspoiled naivety of an adolescent. While she may not have the most trained voice (you can tune into American Idol if that's your bag), her spirit, verve and captivating delivery - both on record and, even more so, onstage - is the perfect vehicle for the band's electro- shock, art-punk. All through the band's career Karen O has kept that mix of both childlike mischief and innocence ever-present.

Which is exactly why she was the perfect choice to score and perform the soundtrack to last year's film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's 1963 classic children's book Where The Wild Things Are. Of course, the fact that she was also Spike Jonze's former girlfriend probably didn't hurt her chances of working on this project. Jonze directed the film, but I digress.

Helping the singer out for the soundtrack are fellow YYY bandmates Nick Zinner and Brian Chase, as well as contributions from indie rocker pals Bradford Cox (Deerhunter), Aaron Hemphill (Liars), Dean Fertita (The Dead Weather) and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs). The resulting music, much of it spiked with playground choruses and simple, spacious arrangements, not only succeeds at adding a sprinkle of magic dust to Jonze's onscreen fantasy world, but also stands up as an enjoyable album in its own right – soundtrack score or not (which can't be said for more than a handful of soundtracks released over the last couple of decades). Youthful innocence is played out through the tender hum-along opener “Igloo” and “Cliffs,” while the achingly beautiful piano-led “Hideaway,” the frail “Food Is Still Hot” and a loving send-up of Daniel Johnston's “Worried Shoes” all add a deep sense of melancholy to the album. The more raucous tracks such as the pouty “Capsize,“ “Rumpus” and the soundtrack's first single “All Is Love” all manage to capture the same sense of unruly mischief and childish impudence as the story's main character, Max.

Movie and story aside though, Karen O & friends' soundtrack proves to be a delightful children's' record for adults. And vice-versa.

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