As Vallens, Robyn Phillips explores ashen, textured rock music that's often shoegaze-y, but songs like “Karen” nod toward Sonic Youth's tightly wound and distraught melodies. The music video for the track, directed by Allison Johnston, journeys through a foreboding kitchen occupied by leering cooks, and ends with Phillips and her band watching some impassioned interpretive dance. According to Phillips, it's a song bourn of an epidemic that's demonized all too often:
[The song was] written about witnessing friends and family with addictions, and how people with addictions are misunderstood. Karen Carpenter's addiction also had to do with the female specific issues that can trigger addiction. Musically it's supposed to feel like a downward spiral.