Lou Reed & Metallica


01. Brandenburg Gate
02. The View
03. Pumping Blood
04. Mistress Dread
05. Iced Honey
06. Cheat on Me
07. Frustration
08. Little Dog
09. Dragon
10. Junior Dad

[Warner Bros.]

Have you ever heard something so terrible that you actually not only get annoyed, but amused at how the people involved in its creation could have possibly signed off on its release? Metallica and Lou Reed are both legends in their own right, but there has to be some assumed naivety among both acts, surely surrounded by a bunch of yes men who kept assuring both of them, “yeah, this is totally really deep and stuff. Yeah, totally.” Of course, this sort of embarrassment is nothing new to Metallica, but they’ve really hit a new low with this one. I know there’s a lot of wild claims from Lars Ulrich in the press about how Lulu is their best work yet and “makes And Justice For All look like a Ramones album”, but in reality where people aren’t completely full of shit, this makes St. Anger look like Master Of Puppets.

Nothing about Lulu makes any goddamned sense, at all. The whole record just feels sloppy and unfocused, and clocking in at a massive hour and a half, it’s frankly a chore to listen to. See, the pairing of Metallica’s musical backing with Lou Reed’s spoken word simply just doesn’t work. There’s not a single moment on the record where it actually works. Frankly, I have no idea how the two ended up together in the first place. This record is just so unlikely and far-fetched that listening to it feels like some sort of strange journey into a universe I’m glad I’m not a part of. But that’s before I realize that I’m still actually listening to this thing for real and I shake my head in disbelief.

Lou Reed’s dissonant psychobabble is easily the album’s largest flaw, but not by much. The lyrics to Lulu are just simply outrageous and absurd. Lou often speaks from the perspective of Lulu, which is pretty strange in and of itself because Lou obviously sounds like the elderly man he is. With that in mind, when you hear Lou talking about cutting his tits off and making references to dog prostitutes and comparing things to “a colored man’s dick” (I shit you not, he says those words), then it’s just absolutely bizarre and hilariously awkward. Lou’s delivery doesn’t help either, as he is always out of key. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think he was completely tone-deaf. Perhaps some better production could have made his voice work (some reverb and maybe mixing it so he sounds more ominous and distant), but he’s unignorable, especially when he’s talking about taboo sexuality.

I’m not letting Metallica off the hook either, as they’re as much to blame for this as Lou. For this whole idea to work, you’d need some sort of musical subtlety in an effort to match Lou’s “intensity.” Metallica wouldn’t know subtlety if it torrented their discography from The Pirate Bay. Obviously, the band is past their prime and out of touch, so you wouldn’t really expect them to come up with anything worth writing home about anyway, but the riffing here on Lulu just sounds like out-takes from the band’s career that probably should have stayed as such. I mean, there are some pretty neat riffs here and there (“Frustration” comes to mind), but it’s all few and far between. Some of the more ambient and drone-like stuff like “Dragon” is sort of interesting if you can listen through Lou, but there’s not much substance to be found.

In the end, Lulu just feels like a cheesy attempt at being deep, edgy, artsy, and avant-garde. The songs are largely repetitive and needlessly long. Everything about Lulu is just uncomfortable, from the album art to the lyrics. If anyone caught me listening to this record, I would immediately jump to Insane Clown Posse, because that’s at least much easier to explain. I’m even sure some spoken word would be compatible with metal given the right circumstances; just try and imagine Tom Waits and Devin Townsend collaborating on some Deconstruction-esque madness. That might work! Hell, Rwake‘s new album Rest had great narrative tone if you happen to be in the market for some apocalyptic metal with poetic meaning. Clearly, Lulu ain’t it. Maybe I just don’t understand it, but I really don’t want to. Lulu is probably the worst record I’ve heard all year, hands down.

Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu gets…


– JR


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