Album Reviews

Karen O And The Kids – Where The Wild Things Are OST

(Polydor) UK release date: 28 September 2009

Maurice Sendak’s children’s story, Where The Wild Things Are, is lauded as a classic and remembered as fondly for the author’s drawings of beasties and creatures as well as the words. With a crack team of Spike Jonze directing, Dave Eggers writing and a boy named Max Records playing the leading role, which musical maestro could possibly be entrusted with the score for the film version?

Everybody’s favourite New York art pop yelper and sartorial kaleidoscope Karen O, of course! On holiday from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Miss O has still borrowed her bandmates, alongside The Bird And The Bee‘s Greg Kurstin, The Dead Weather‘s Jack Lawrence and a whole lot of other strange and interesting musicians, to comprise The Kids in her band.

But it’s not just by the kids – it’s for the kids too. Jonze apparently chose Karen O because of her child-like innocence and guileless charm, and the songs on this album have both in spades. Simple, half-chanted choruses are belted out by ebullient kids. Gentle lullabies are punctuated with jangling tambourines and accompanied by lilting humming from our lead woman.

As an album, this collection of mostly short songs works well, moving through different tempos and experimenting with a spectrum of child-like emotion. As a soundtrack, it’s sure to work beautifully. Sleepiness, playfulness and shrieking rampages are all evoked with crystal clarity by these little, perfectly formed songs. Reprisals of two of the songs occur later on in the album, offering gentler, bittersweet versions of songs now familiar.

Capsize and current download single All Is Love are full of chanted spelling – L. O. V. E! – bringing some good old fashioned Sesame Street magic to the proceedings. Rumpus is kicked off with Karen O yelling “let the wild rumpus begin!” before a cacophony of yelping, chanting and joyous laa-ing with a bit of tribal drumming ensues. Animal continues the jungle nursery stomp vibe and paints a vivid picture of Karen O in a Tarzan loincloth marching through the undergrowth at the head of her fearsome gang of wild children waving sticks and shouting “HA!”.

This soundtrack is a successful exercise in painting pictures with music. As a collection of songs for children it is tender and playful, and as part of the effort to be true to a book that is a favourite of millions, it is bound to win approval from people of all ages.

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Karen O And The Kids – Where The Wild Things Are OST