Blonde Redhead
Blonde Redhead


3.5
great

Review

by MiloRuggles USER (6 Reviews)
July 29th, 2019 | 8 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Songs to warm both your heart and the underside of a spoon

Despite being paradoxical in both name and nature, Blonde Redhead's self-titled debut lays down a clear mission statement for the band. During the course of Blonde Redhead, the band let listeners know that they're dedicated to following their collective noses, in the sense that they'll chase whatever odours infiltrate their worn-down septums and substance-widened nasal passages to the bitter fucking end.

Put bluntly, Blonde Redhead are sonically weird, and looking to explore their weirdness as an addict explores the outer limits of sanity. Clearly this was a mindset that Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley could empathise with, as he was so impressed with the relatively cherubic band's propensity for portraying every inch of the spectrum of kinda fucked up shit that he decided to [s]go on a bender with[/s] produce their very first LP.

What this spastic group then delivers on Blonde Redhead consists of some some back-to-basics drums (for reference, listen to Sciuri Sciura) that spend the majority of the album at an intensity comparable to your grandma walking to the fridge, a bassist who seems content mostly keeping things steady with the drummer (for reference, listen to Sciuri Sciura), guitars that follow a harmonic mantra of “fuck it” as often as they don't, and two vocalists whose more obvious contrasts don't end at their respective sexes. These unlikely ingredients form a cocktail that's not entirely appetising (for reference, listen to Sciuri Sciura), but capable of knocking you on your ass if you drink enough (for reference, see Astro Boy).

Opening track I Don't Want U is a perfect taste of what's to come, with the band ripping through multiple moods throughout, showcasing their various styles of vocals, and coming together for a satisfying conclusion. Although it's the obvious all-rounder indroductory beverage for the incoming binge, the band keep a variety of miniatures up their sleeves to spike you with.

One such spike comes when Kazu Makino sets a globetrotting standard for her vocals during Astro Boy, with a section of her performance becoming so unhinged that it develops its own narrative. This starts with a few screams so tangibly blood-curdling that you'll find yourself involuntarily wincing as your auditory cortex processes the oncoming sound waves as a surefire precursor to copping a faceful of exploded fragments of Makino's lungs to the face. Somehow she survives this portion of the performance with her chest cavity intact, and shifts her vocals to a kind of simulacra of a soap opera actress shouting as if she's supposed to be angry. This becomes a cry of “how mere” that sounds more like a desperate plea for help rather than the observation that it is. Makino is then wheeled off in her Hannibal Lecter-style straitjacket/trolley combo and kept in a shipping container until further needed.

Impressed and in envy of what his rival singer has achieved on Astro Boy, Amedeo Pace sets in motion a plan to either match or exceed her acrobatic vocals during his performance on Mama Cita. Near the end of the track the guitars start making all kinds of noise and Pace begins his very own series of screams. Unfortunately for him, although Makino is safely restrained, her muzzle must have been shaken loose by the song's violent conclusion. Once Makino clues on to Pace's nefarious plot to supersede her, she unleashes one of those ear-piercing shrieks it seems like only children are capable of, robbing poor Pace of all momentum. The band then swiftly finish the song, as if they were just like, “Again with this shit?!” and called it a day.

If this based-on-true-events story sounds messy, that's because it is. Fear not, reader, because within this wild unpredictability lies Blonde Redhead's charm.

Snippet is a song that I believe was named after the snippet of a Neurosis practice that Blonde Redhead overheard and attempted to replicate, adding in a couple of their own diversions in order to break the three-minute mark. Swing Pool starts as a relatively melodic effort with a strangely Radiohead-esque chorus before switching gears halfway through to present the listener with a carefully constructed pile of random instrumentation as if it's a macaroni picture they spent a long fucking time on. They then defenestrate this pasta-based work of art and switch back to the song they started just minutes before, finishing things off as if nothing strange happened. Girl Boy stands as a jarring contrast to the rest of the album, being the only song entirely devoid of rock influences. It appears to be about two people fucking (a boy and a girl, as the title cleverly alludes to), and notably features perhaps the dullest guitar tone ever spat out of a fully-functioning amp. After this track, the album just stops without so much as an apology for the juxtapositional coda, leaving you waiting for something that's never coming as the band dash off into the night.

Blonde Redhead probably won't be the weirdest album you've ever heard. It's not chaotic enough to entirely thrive on nihilism, and it's not controlled enough to warrant talk of amazing musicianship or song-writing abilities. It's a full-blown identity crisis put to record, and the results are nothing short of captivating. Importantly, there's an underlying heart-warming feeling that this band has that something suggesting that if they either sort all of their drug habits out- or take just the right amount of the right drugs- that they'll be able to cook up something truly unique and special later on down the line that'll be well worth mainlining. As a first-time listener, I'm simultaneously excited and scared that I'm going to develop a habit if this holds true.



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user ratings (46)
Chart.
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
MiloRuggles
July 29th 2019


86 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Shouts out to Johnny for putting me onto this. Review's a little rough around the edges, but, much like one of those bowel movements that feels like you're passing a morning-star, sometimes you've just gotta heave it out.



Anyone who fixes my strikethrough error wins a picture of my left nut

clavier
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2019


999 Comments


this is a really accurate depiction of the blonde redhead experience, good shit Milo

Digging: Friolento - Destroy All Bad Luck

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2019


15794 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

DOPE review, love the analysis, tone and summary (lmao) so much; you got the feel for this across super clearly. Band is pretty dope in general, discog is well worth exploring (turns into fucked up chamber rock, shoegaze and dream pop further down the line ;])

Feel free to harangue the living shit out of me until I get that Plaid review up! Gonna have to sharpen up my game to keep up with this...

MiloRuggles
July 29th 2019


86 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers peeps, appreciate it. I feel bad about giving you plaid, that's a tough review haha. No doubt you'll nail it though.



Yeah, excited to see where these guys take things

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2019


15794 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Mmm it's made me realise exactly why I don't normally review electronic aha

Touched base with this album and damn they tightened up with La Mia Vita (although that one's a little less exciting)

MiloRuggles
July 29th 2019


86 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha I'm sure you'll churn out something stunning as per.



Cool cool, thinking I'll do the chronological thing with everything they've got so I can track how they develop for a bit of fun. Excited to get to the acclaimed ones though

FilteredSeaMen
July 30th 2019


5 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This is one of two albums i put on to lull me to sleep after taking my nightly golden dose of H followed by some rocks tossed on the old glass barbeque. The other album being Paracletus of course.

MiloRuggles
July 30th 2019


86 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I listen to Paracletus before I listen to Paracletus in order to get me in the mood for Paracletus. Then the third time's the charm, of course. My favorite drug to take while listening to Paracletus is a litre of DXM



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