Today, Karen O just released the first new single, “Rapt,” from her Crush Songs album, a “collection of lo-fi, bedroom recordings” she recorded between 2006 and 2007. According to the artist herself, the track is about “someone who became a habit that was hard to kick.” The song is grainy, melancholic, and even a bit claustrophobic. It’s something quite unlike any of the pop-punk energetic music she made with the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. But it’s a side we’ve seen in hints before, most recently in “Moon Song,” the Academy-Award-winning song she wrote for the Spike Jonze film, ‘Her.’
The video, a portrait of the singer in a blood-red dress floating passively in tranquil waters, serve as a fitting metaphor for a suffocating relationship. When I first heard the song, the quivery vocals reminded me of those first few seconds of Marcy Playground’s hauntingly arresting song, “Opium.” The resemblance to a drug fits well, and can be heard in Karen O’s lovesick lyrics. Words like “Do I really need / Another habit like you,” or “I can cough I can choke / On this kind of smoke,” paint the portrait of a love comparable to the trials of a drug addiction.