I’m hesitant to call Lulu, the collaboration album by Lou Reed and Metallica, awful; only because doing so would be an acknowledgement that it exists. It’s much better to pretend that Lulu was never made in the first place, better to pretend like it was a really bad nightmare that I woke up from in the middle of the night, only to breathe a sigh of relief once realizing it was only a bad dream.
I was skeptical of this union this past summer when details of the album first emerged. But being such an avid fan of both parties—with immense respect for their legacies—I figured it was best to leave skepticism aside and keep an open mind. Well, that plan went out the window about three songs into Lulu.
Lulu is essentially a collection of songs based on plays written by the German playwright Frank Wedekind—which you’d never know without the help of Wikipedia, considering the beyond-vague nature of the lyrics. Reed—not exactly known for being a songbird, but at least someone able to carry a tune—has apparently given up on singing, as most of Lulu is a spoken word performance layered over Metallica’s plodding riffs. Truthfully, not a single song on Lulu is worthwhile to call out, except for maybe the last track—the 20-minute “Junior Dad.” That might be worth the listen if you’re looking for a way to kill yourself slowly and painfully.
As far as the impact Lulu will have on the performers, Reed will escape the backlash of this abortion of an album pretty much without a scar. After all, this isn’t the first time he’s put out an unlistenable album (see: Metal Machine Music). But as for Metallica, who were finally gaining some respect again after returning to form on 2008’s Death Magnetic, they’ve pretty much placed a large target on their backs again, one that their fan base will no doubt be aiming for with the steeliest of arrows.
Now, let’s all pray that David Bowie and Megadeth don’t get any bright ideas of their own.