Saturday, 14 May 2011

Blonde Redhead - Penny Sparkle


Released September, 13 2010 / 4AD

Here Sometimes
Not Getting There
Will There Be Stars
My Plants Are Dead
Love Or Prison
Penny Sparkle
Everything Is Wrong
Black Guitar

Blueboy and Popgirly have tremendous amounts of love for Blonde Redhead. So it’s a wonder why we have left it so long to review their eighth offering Penny Sparkle. Well, it certainly isn’t a let down. Enlisting the help of producer Subliminal Kid (Fever Ray) would be Blonde Redhead's biggest musical shift to date. They have created an entirely new Blonde Redhead sound on this record with beautifully-spaced electronic compositions. Kazu Makino brings compassion and warmth to each song, full of lush mystery like a floating dream. Check out the lead single, ‘Here Sometimes’, with its gloomy synth and spacey beats, yet delicately balanced with Makino’s soft vocal. Many reviewers have given Penny Sparkle bad write-ups, even calling the album ‘heartless and uncomfortable’, yet Blueboy and Popgirly believe this album shows Blonde Redhead’s commitment to the avant-garde. They are able to conjure stylistic strengths and arrangements without sounding forced or clumsy. 23 was dream pop magic, but with this album, they have pushed the envelope with clear inspiration from Björk’s Vespertine. The deep bass guitar sound on tracks such as ‘My Plants Are Dead’ or ‘Love Or Prison’ are beautiful, there is vastness and space created within them. ‘My Plants Are Dead’ in particular, is going to be on heavy rotation for a long time. Whereas the aforementioned ‘Love Or Prison’ has remnants of The Cure’s ‘All Cats Are Grey’ (yes, another mention of The Cure on this blog), hauntingly beautiful and unforgettable. Overall, Penny Sparkle delivers something far deeper that its predecessor, Blonde Redhead have created a record full of perfectly balanced space. It is a down-tempo mood piece, with a lush organic sound that will soothe ears for years to come.