Maybe you didn’t know you wanted two of hard rock and rock rock’s most celebrated icons to do an album of disconnected, German Expressionist-influenced, prostitute-channeling bon mots over lumbering riffs and chalk drums, but, well, here we are. Here we are with Lulu. And it turns out that the sense of dread descending upon Lou Reed and Metallica fans alike as the album’s release drew near was anticipated by the lyricist himself: “There is no time for guilt/or second guessing,” Reed sings on the downright listenable “The View.” Or, later, more accurately: “Pain and evil have their place sitting here beside me.” Welcome! James Hetfleld and Lars Ulrich have kept your seats warm!
Interpreting all the lyrics as being about the lyrics itself is vastly more fun than trying to figure out what they might actually refer to. Like, for example, the line about a “Kotex jukebox” (“Dragon”) or “To be dry and spermless/ Like a girl,” (“Frustration”). They may be speaking from or for the voice of playwright Frank Wedekind’s heroine Lulu, but in Reed’s tuneless bark, it sounds more like the real-time thoughts of a dirty old man getting his first eyeful in a very long time. For one thing, must girls be defined by what they lack? Even the sweet opening acoustic guitars that begin this record on “Bradenburg Gate” are marred by Reed’s promise “I would cut my legs and tits off.” (Oh, to be titless, like Lou Reed!) Yet somehow “Why do I cheat…on me?,” which Hetfield repeats over and over, is the worst and funniest of the lyrics — one of those songs that ends in a syntactical object surprise (see also >Poe‘s “I want to blow you … away”). Much like Lulu itself, it’s a bad line that somehow ends up worse than it started.