Stand too close to Lulu, Lou Reed and Metallica's new collaboration-concept-album, and you risk collateral brickbats. "If the Red Hot Chili Peppers acoustically covered the 12 worst Primus songs for Starbucks, it would still be (slightly) better than this." That's Chuck Klosterman. "Unquestionably the nadir of Metallica's career... This horribly conceived circle jerk of an album." That's Adrien Begrand. "Turgid Weimar schlock." That's my friend Mimi.
Lulu has upset everybody. Metallifans are disgusted with it; Lou's old lovers are turned off. In its first week it shifted around 15,000 copies: not bad for a Lou Reed record, but a commercial cratering for Metallica, whose last album Death Magnetic, at the same point, was approaching sales of half-a-million. Conceptually, Lulu is a Reedian gloss on the plays of scandalous German dramaturge Frank Wedekind: Berlin-saturated, sex-and-death-fixated, streetwalking, knives, blah, the very worst of Lou, potentially. One more swirl in the cisterns of abjection, etc. And then he brings in Metallica—Metallica, who can barely recognize their instruments outside a state of stadium-crushing heaviosity—to explore the material, to improvise, to feel. An epic misfire, surely.