Finding Redemption in the Horrors of Lou Reed and Metallica's Lulu
Don't Kill Lulu Yet: No, there is not one conventionally good song on Lulu, the 87-minute, hyped-to-infinity, Frankenstein's monster of Lou Reed babble and Metallica chug that came out the day after Halloween. Not really. This is a batch of 10 challenging pieces that average more than eight minutes in length, and meld the recent tendencies of both parties into an album no more graceful than you'd expect. Critical reaction has been largely negative: Pitchfork scored Lulu a 1.0. Chuck Klosterman skewered it in a brilliant, somewhat conflicted take, deeming the album "unlistenable." Rolling Stone dutifully gave two of its idols the benefit of the doubt and three stars. Some Metallica fans are reportedly threatening to shoot Lou Reed.
The big riddle is why this was made and how we take it -- what did the patron saint of New York Cool and the brash boys of Bay Area metal hear in their 2009 performance at a Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame concert that warranted holing up in a San Rafael studio and turning a couple of plays by German writer Frank Wedekind into a spoken-word metal album? We know Lulu is not supposed to be a Metallica record; a lot of it sounds like Reed revisiting some of the basic ideas of the Velvet Underground. Certainly, the fact that Reed hyped the project so, uh, hyperbolically, suggesting it might be "the best thing done by anyone, ever," didn't do the jarring final product any favors.
So is Lulu a "listenable" rock record? No. But the real question is whether it's art, or just a bunch of self-indulgent millionaires fucking around... [continue reading]
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