Blonde Redhead - 23

Album cover

  1. 23 (5:18)
  2. Dr Strangeluv (4:47)
  3. The Dress (4:00)
  4. SW (4:35)
  5. Spring And By Summer Fall (4:15)
  6. Silently (3:57)
  7. Publisher (4:01)
  8. Heroine (4:11)
  9. Top Ranking (3:27)
  10. My Impure Hair (4:52)

2007

This US indie band have been going since the mid-nineties, but their perfectly-formed dream-pop has only recently caught my attention. Apparently they were formerly noisier and punkier, which I can't imagine, because on their seventh album "23", they are feathery and even cute. The album's ten songs all have a very similar four-square tempo and the same pinging-guitar sound, so it could easily have sounded dour and professional, as Garbage are apt to do. But instead, Blonde Redhead hold our attention with consistently exquisite tunes and Kazu Makino's floaty, mumbly vocals. As she takes girl/boy lead turns with Amedeo Pace on alternate tracks, it pre-empts the accusation of being too sweet.

The sound is held together in the most airy, casual way: the constant backdrop of pingy guitars, very subtle dabs of electronics, and occasionally something more far-out, like a quaint Sgt. Pepper brass band on "SW". But it's the songwriting touches, like the creepy upward steps of "The Dress", that are their greatest skill. The highlight is the title track, with a tune so uplifting it makes a mockery of the "shoegaze" label that people might reach for when describing it.

July 30, 2007

8 out of 10

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson
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