Lulu is a story of a young woman who's seen quite a bit. Originally conceived as a Berlin theater production by avant-garde director Robert Wilson, Lulu is an interesting collaboration between two iconoclastic rock acts: Lou Reed and Metallica. It’s more in line with a Lou Reed album. Reed narrates and sings most of the material, with Metallica’s James Hetfield providing backing vocals and occasional lead vocal relief. The real benefit of the collaboration is that it gives Reed his best backing band in years. Metallica serves Reed’s material, putting its seasoned chops into what was for it a very quick recording process. “Iced Honey” is the album’s most accessible moment. “Cheat on Me,” “Dragon,” and “Junior Dad” all deserve their epic lengths. Deliberately squeamish moments are played up for maximum impact, but it’s the strategic ugliness of the music in spots—“Little Dog” makes efficient use of Reed’s angry-old-man bitterness—that makes this an uncompromising triumph. These songs are closer in spirit to Reed’s Velvet Underground days than anything else Metallica has attempted.

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