Far too often, the enticing reveal of a high-caliber collaboration album ends up falling flat when the final product actually debuts. Often when two legendary figures in their respective fields come together the result is never as bold or focused as the artists’ solo work. The fact is, when you have two competing visions or egos at odds, it will often produce a messy album, that doesn't live up to either of the artists’ potential. Thankfully neither Danger Mouse or Karen O seem to suffer the massive ego required to sink a project like this. Not that the two haven't had their fair share of less than perfect collaborations in the past.

Danger Mouse has produced a plethora of forgettable albums including the Red Hot Chili Peppers forgettable latest as well as the Black Keys’ last album Turn Blue. Karen O lent her vocals to a Maximum Balloon track, a side project by TV on the Radio producer Dave Sitek; a collaboration with so much potential that fell completely flat. However, the potential of these two creators colliding seemed like a match made in heaven. When the duo released the title track ‘Lux Prima’ it was clear that heaven was the right word to describe it, as what emerged was a 9-minute glistening ambient driven epic.

In a lot of ways Lux Prima as an album seems like a direct follow up to Danger Mouse’s Rome project with Daniele Luppi. Riffs and motifs feel directly lifted from parts of that album. However, Lux Prima takes the best aspects from that uneven set of tracks and refines them in a tighter more effective concept. Whereas Rome boasted a plethora of guest vocalists including Jack White and Norah Jones, concentrating on Karen O’s vocal makes for a more consistent stream of music. However, this is not to say that there is little variation from track to track. While there is a lot of repeating patterns and structure from song to song, Karen O and Danger Mouse do a lot to make sure the album doesn’t just blur together. Whether it be the punky distortion of ‘Woman’ or the quiet, stripped back ‘Reveries’, which uses jarring harmonics throughout the song underlining Karen’s raw and emotional vocals; it’s a perfect companion for the simple but heart wrenching lyrical content. “When I’m at the door, I go quietly. Into your arms, I lose myself,” Karen O’s voice echoes over the intimate riff. It is a love song, if the person you are falling in love with is a destructive con artist.

Lux Prima, finds its strength in pulling beauty out of the darkness, the album cover itself, a small symbol of light in a sea of black void. A lot of the album was written in the transition from Obama’s presidency to the current state of affairs. So, the concept of finding even a shred of light in the dark is not one lost on a modern audience. In fact, the title itself translates to “leading light.” Karen O and Danger Mouse are empowered by despair; nowhere is this clearer than on the aforementioned ‘Woman’ which was written as a direct response to 2016 election. Though sometimes that statement can be a kiss of death, as Trump has inspired some of the most ‘on the nose’ protest songs of all time, ‘Woman’ is a song that doesn’t dwell on the political horror show, but simply states that Karen O is not to be messed with. The punk energy harkens back to some of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ boisterous catalogue, bringing the same ecstatic power that songs like ‘Mosquito’ and ‘Sacrilege’ did when released.

Though often the simplicity is the charm of the album, it also leaves a lot to be desired. It is easy to understand the concepts the duo put forward lyrically, however even the best songs from the album are often repetitive and do little to delve deep into their chosen subject. The anger and emotional weight come through, but often the track is carried by the production, which is an odd choice for a conceptual piece. Though it really allows the dynamic between producer and singer to come through, Karen’s vocals feel like another weapon in Danger Mouse’s arsenal. It is clear the duo give each other room to shine, even if the record isn’t as dense content wise, the variety of Karen O’s vocals allows for Danger Mouse’s most ambitious instrumentation to date.

Though obviously he has contributed to some of the most impactful music of the last 20 years, this album marks a high point for Danger Mouse. Lux Prima is cinematic in a way that hasn’t been realized by the producer before. The album was recorded at the Skywalker sound complex, the home of the sounds of Star Wars and Jurassic Park. The duo relish in the dramatic on each song, filling the space with movie score-esque instrumentation. Under the bombastic drums on ‘Ministry’ we are treated to flourishes of synth and strings that belong in a sci-fi soundtrack. Not only is it reminiscent of the apocalyptic disco sound of Danger Mouse’s Broken Bells project, but it helps that Karen O also has a background in scoring films of Spike Jonze.

A lot of elements go into the production and sound of Lux Prima, however it is the restraint of the two artists that make the album work. What transpires is melding of the two worlds that does not come across as messy or unfocused, but rather the opposite. A streamlined and consistent concept with a cinematic touch running throughout, the album isn’t likely to be one of the best of the year, but it is a success all around and sits amongst the pair’s best work.

Karen O and Danger Mouse have a story to tell on Lux Prima; though not a traditional concept album, it does create a luscious portrayal of a small blinding light in the seemingly infinite dark.