Lou Reed, Metallica bad kind of strange


By Connor Rice

You can’t force weird.

Metallica is living proof of this fact. When done correctly, “weird” can give society a shot in the arm and ignite a countercultural shift. But half-hearted attempts to keep a career interesting rarely stack up in the “all-time” lists. Metallica and Lou Reed’s LuLu was supposed to be a late-career statement for both artists, but despite teaming up with someone as unexpected as Reed and re-working his old material, the great thrash metal “sell-outs” can’t manage to break out of their safety zone. It is an uncomfortable tug-of-war between two legends that mars LuLu, one of the strangest (and not in a good way) albums of all time.

LuLu is a record that makes no sense. In what often sounds like the half-baked, beat poet version of Metallica’s “black” album, Lou Reed and his most recent collaborators stumble their way through a gross miscommunication of good intentions.

Look, Metallica wanted to further its artistic endeavors. That’s totally worthy of applause. But the idea of musical collaboration is to borrow from a different bag of tricks, not to write non-sequitur, stereotypical Metallica songs under what sounds like a separately recorded vocal track. Some points during LuLu force one to wonder if Reed and Metallica were ever even in the same room with one another or if they sent a few rough drafts back and forth too close to deadline to even worry about what it sounded like, just expecting it to be good because it was weird on it’s own merit.

Not the case.

But there’s still some innocence to it. LuLu has an excitable naïveté not unlike that of a high school garage band. Metallica seems to believe it has crafted a serious statement, but ultimately has no clue what they are talking about. You almost want to like the album based on how authentic the sentiment feels (and for how sorry you feel for Reed’s confusion over what to do with the density of the backing tracks).

With Metallica’s members (continually) claiming they’re getting back to their roots and it being far too late in Reed’s career for this to be nothing more than a footnote compared to the Velvet Underground, the schlock in LuLu may end up being easily forgotten. Other artists probably wish they could be as fortunate.