The album is a collaboration of rock 'n' roll icon Lou Reed and heavy metal contemporaries Metallica, an odd combination to say the least, but often times odd combinations are what lead to the freshest and most original songs. Sadly, this is not the case with "Lulu."
The album, for all intents and purposes, is a Lou Reed album: Reed wrote the songs, sings lead vocals on all songs and even plays multiple instruments. Metallica does provide a suitable backup band for Reed's material, but if anything, it drags him down. Reed is a musician with the flamboyance of Bowie, the honesty of Lennon, the poeticism of Dylan and the swagger of Jagger, but here most of his (largely pretentious) ambitions fall flat.
I cannot claim to be an expert on Metallica, or even a fan really, but I will say that fans of their material will probably be turned off here. Fans of Reed may go either way, depending on how they approach the catalog of songs that make up "Lulu." Do not expect the melodies of "Sweet Jane" or "Walk on the Wild Side," the songs here bear much more resemblance to Reed's desolate album "Berlin" or his earlier work with the Velvet Underground, such as the majority of the noise rock that makes up "White Light/White Heat." However, there is a difference between those albums and "Lulu." The previous albums are exceptionally consistent, but "Lulu" has shards of creativity and musicality that never blossoms.
Many of the songs do not feature singing, but instead Reed's droll utterance of lyrics that fall somewhere between belting and speaking loudly. Because of this, the music does not always match the lyrical material at hand, and often Reed and Metallica do not appear to be on the same page.
"The View" features a dry, almost monotonous, reading from Reed, while Metallica chugs along heavily with dark, aggressive chords. The song works well upon first listen, and it seems almost original, but then when you realize that the next two tracks, "Pumping Blood" and "Mistress Dread," use the same formula, you realize the songs are just not good.
The album does have some highlights like the gothic rocker "Iced Honey" and the power-surging "Dragon," but the good songs are trapped between long, winding songs that never seem to end and have no redeeming aspects to them. One song, "Junior Dad," is nearly 20 minutes long, and after a few minutes, one all but gives up on listening to it; actually, with the album about 88 minutes long, one all but gives up listening to the entire album after a few songs. The few good songs cannot save the majority of terrible ones.
It is hard to put the blame on either Reed or Metallica, although Reed's work has far outshone the latter. Reed has been trying to shock his listeners with tales of debauchery and decadence since the '60s, and almost all of his attempts have succeeded, creating masterpieces; while listening to the album, at some points it seems that Metallica is bored with Reed's words and tries to surpass him with its instruments. But little does the band know. This may be why "Lulu" has failed; there is a clash between lead vocalist/writer and providing jarring melodies and lyrics that just do not work together. Although the concept of the album and the collaboration could have worked, the album as a whole is just too ill-conceived and unlistenable.
Alex Randazzo is a senior at City Honors.
Lou Reed & Metallica