Review: BLONDE REDHEAD – Penny Sparkle (4AD)
From the off, the teaser track the band released to the public for this, the group’s ninth album and third for 4AD you could tell that there had been changes within the Blonde Redhead camp musical ethos. The song in question was opener ‘Here Sometimes’ and it seemed that all but eradicated was the intricate guitar work and in it’s place was heavy synth lead hooks.
Those synths literally saturate ‘Penny Sparkle’ from beginning to end and I must admit that it takes a listen or two to catch up and simply get with the new aesthetic. But once there, tracks such as the eerie ‘My Plants Are Dead’ spring to life. “I let the boys party but I’m just gonna chill” sings Kazu Makino and she really does. If ever there was a Sunday morning record then this is it.
The guitars haven’t completely gone. They can still be heard but they are simply swamped in effects pedals that add and never take away from this dreamy path the band have taken. The highlight for me has to be ‘Black Guitar’. Maybe it’s the male/female vocal approach, maybe it’s those Radiohead blips that provide the majority of the back beat or perhaps it’s simply that everything that Blonde Redhead were hoping to achieve with this record is encapsulated with this singular five and a half minute song. It’s ridiculously beautiful and makes this reviewer realise that upstarts such as Telepathe and the Hundred in the Hands whilst utterly relevant and exciting still have a long way to go before they can match the understated skill that Blonde Redhead have mastered here. I for one can not wait to see what the band comes up with next.
I originally wrote this review for Penny Black Music