It’s hard to defame an idol, let alone to defame two. So to describe the first — and hopefully only– collaborative album between Lou Reed and Metallica in the politest terms possible; it’s basically existential beat poetry set to metal music.
As a fan of Reed and a conscious appreciator of Metallica, it was difficult not to riddle this review with the word ‘but’, e.g. “sure the vocals on track 2 suck but how amazing was that live version of ‘Sweet Jane,’” or “OK, track 7 sounds dated and actually hurts my ears but Metallica have won 9 Grammys.”
Named after Louise Brooks’ character in the 1929 film Pandora’s Box, the record isn’t quite as obscure and progressive as its makers might want it to be. Almost all of the songs on the 10-track album sound how fans may expect the collaboration to: messy, incongruent and a little bit sad. But, there are some exceptions.
The exceptions don’t come in the form of whole tracks, but rather segments of songs as most last an average of nine minutes. ‘Little Dog’ is a definite standout and might please hopeful fans. It’s the only song on the record that seems like it’s considered how the vocal and the instrumental elements will work together, and while some my find the lyrics slightly pretentious it does stay true to the musicality of both acts.
The sad thing is, that when separate, the vocal and the instrumentals are both strong and what you’d expect from seasoned rock stars. The issue is, when combined, one distracts from the other so all you’re left with is a clusterfuck of noise.
Adding to that, the whole project feels a bit too forced; not unlike when a young band humour their parents and let them join in on a jam session – the kids feel obliged to run with it and the parents take it all a bit too seriously. Only in the case of Lulu, the kids are pushing fifty and running out of things to get angsty about.
Lulu won’t demean either artist’s body of work or even isolate fans, but it probably will go down in history as one of the most forced, awkward and unsuccessful collaborations of all time. Safe to say, some things in life are better left separate.
— Esther Semo