Lou Reed, Metallica prove some collaborations are better left undone

Jack H. Evans

Sometimes, high profile musical collaborations turn out successfully. Just look at “We Are the World.” Other times, though, they turn out like… well, they turn out like Lulu , the new album by former Velvet Underground singer and acclaimed solo artist Lou Reed and world famous metal act Metallica. Way back in 1983, a little band from California called Metallica released a debut album full of fast-paced, aggressive, angry music called Kill ‘Em All . That band would eventually grow to be the most popular and most successful metal band on the face of the earth. Unfortunately, with success often comes growing indulgence. 2003’s St. Anger was condemned by critics and fans for its bad production and lack of guitar solos. Its follow up, Death Magnetic , marked a return to heavier territory, but it appears Metallica are back to their old let-downs again. Unlike on St. Anger , the music on Lulu isn’t badly played or produced (save some drum breaks on “Pumping Blood” and “Frustration”). One thing it is, however, is repetitive. By the time “The View,” which is the first single and horrendous second track on the album, is over, listeners will have figured out that this album doesn’t have much going on in the way of musical dynamics. While the riff in “Mistress Dread” is more old-school Metallica and “Dragon” displays something kind of like a guitar solo, it isn’t enough to outweigh a song like “Little Dog,” which is eight minutes of the same dull bass line over and over ad nauseum. The depressingly long 19-minute “Junior Dad” does have some musical progression, but ends with 7 minutes of repeating violins. While the production here is clean and the music isn’t poorly handled, it definitely lacks variety. Of course, all of this boring music could be brought back from the dead by some impressive vocal work. AC/DC got pretty popular, didn’t they? But alas, the vocals and lyrics are far worse than the instrumentation. Reed may be a music legend from his days with the Velvet Underground, but here his self-indulgent, faux poetic lyrics just don’t fly. Lyrically, Lulu is supposed to be a musical representation of German playwright Frank Wedekind’s drama of the same name. Strangely enough, though, the song lyrics lack a connection and even become funny before long. Reed’s “singing” is just as bad as the lyrics. Rather than musical vocals, his words seem more like spoken-word ramblings of a washed up hipster poet. He forces songs like “Brandenburg Gate” and “Cheat on Me” to come across as more annoying than melodious (no, Lou, we don’t know why you cheat on yourself. You can stop asking.). While Metallica vocalist James Hetfield may not have the best voice in music, his presence would be welcome on many songs, and yet, he is usually noticeably absent. In fact, one of his first major appearances comes at the most hilarious moment on the album: he breaks into the second chorus on “The View” proudly proclaiming “I am the view! I am the table!” Though both Lou Reed and Metallica are widely respected and admired artists, few would think it from listening to Lulu . This album will depress hard-core fans, disappoint casual listeners, and make any listener want to pull his/her hair out. Though it may be an innovative and… um… unique effort, Lulu isn’t worth 87 minutes of any rational person’s time. Overall rating: 1/10