Karen O is rather tame for the “Where the Wild Things Are” soundtrack

As a worshipper of Karen O‘s ingeniously inventive style, nutcase performances and banshee-like vocals, I was hesitant to listen to the soundtrack of Where the Wild Things Are. I had heard from various friends that it was far from anything like, “Boy you’re just a stupid b—h and girl, you’re just a no good d–k,” and, instead, more subdued.

Karen O, one of the wildest things that ever were, seems like a natural fit for the film’s music with her unorthodox vocal performances and outrageous visions.

Director Spike Jonze, writer Maurice Sendek and Karen O

However, her performance on the record is the complete opposite of what you’d expect from her. When I finally gave it an open-minded listen, I looked beyond the insane stage antics of the intriguing front woman of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — the woman can sing! Karen O composed and co-produced much of the music for her ex-boo’s (Spike Jonze) more-than-a-children’s movie, alongside her two Yeah Yeah Yeahs bandmate bros. This stripped down soundtrack reminds me of Kimya Dawson‘s unconventional contributions for Juno‘s backing tunes.

No, you won’t find Karen O shrieking her head off to sexually frustrated lyrics, but you will hear the most vulnerable sound from her that I can guarantee you will ever hear. But don’t think that “vulnerable” means boring, by any means; instead, her quiet intensity coupled with gentle acoustic guitar (a classic lesbian favorite) is endearing and completely captivating. Plus, she’s frequently backed by The Kids, an adorable children’s chorus.

I’m in love with “Cliffs” and “All is Love,” both really beautiful tracks.

For me, the stand-out song is “Animal,” on which Karen O gives us some (of course) animalistic hunting cries that hearken back to her Fever to Tell days, with an intense backing band and intricate layers of percussion.

It’s totally understandable if the sort of mellowed-out vibe scares you; it scared me too! But once I gave it a couple listens, it made me realize that there is so much more to the wildly talented Karen O than tattered bubble wrap dresses and deep-throating microphones. This album is definitely the right step artistically for Karen O’s music career: I mean if Three 6 Mafia can win an Academy for “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp,” the sky’s the limit for Miss O.

Keep an open mind and give the soundtrack an unbiased listen. You won’t be sorry.

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