Norah Jones wants to be your crazy ex-girlfriend. Inspired by her breakup with a mysterious ”fiction writer” whom she refuses to name, her new album arrives with a cover that pays tribute to Russ Meyer’s juicy 1965 sexploitation flick Mudhoney. (Tagline: ”Passion debased by lust…leaves a taste of evil!”) You’d think that Jones wrote these songs while imagining herself as one of Meyer’s heroines, strangling men with her bare thighs.
Sadly, she’s not that kind of girl. On Little Broken Hearts, she sounds like she’d rather get over bad love by popping a few Percocets and going back to bed. Still, with Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse) producing, the heavy-lidded-vixen thing works for her here. Having collaborated with Jones on 2011’s haunting ”Black,” Burton brings a slow-sauntering vintage Franco-pop sound to Hearts, making the Starbucks-friendly singer sound much hipper. He recasts her as Jane Birkin on the cool, swinging-’60s-style ”Say Goodbye” and lets her play the torch singer on the very sexy ”4 Broken Hearts.” Too bad the passive, downbeat vibe sometimes just feels like a drag: So many songs find Jones gazing longingly at old photographs (as she does on ”After the Fall”) or obsessing over her ex’s latest fling (”She’s 22”) while the music drifts by hazily in the background. Only the menacing ballad ”Miriam” shows real agency, with Jones informing the new girlfriend, ”I’m gonna smile when I take your life.” Desire! Jealousy! Revenge! Maybe there’s a B movie in her yet. B