Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Track Review: Blonde Redhead, "23"

Despite the fact that Blonde Redhead remain one of my favorite bands of all time, even I would admit that their collective body of work is...spotty, to say the least. There has always been a creative hunger in them, a drive, if you will, to be (perhaps) even better than a Sonic Youth or a My Bloody Valentine. It keeps things moving and interesting, for the most part. Their pseudo-shoeghaze stylings, and decidedly No-wave posturing, of course, lends itself to creativity but they tend to sometimes get lost in the theatricality of their own thesis. Their last album, Misery Is A Butterfly, is a perfect example of this: a lot of potential, almost completely lost in down-trodden eccentricity for the sake of nothing. It's a fine album, sure, but it was to be their crowning achievement. Their latest outing, 23, (due out on 4AD on April 10th) seems to be a step in an interesting direction. I've not heard the album yet, but the gang, in all their wisdom, went ahead and decided to release the title track (you guessed it) "23" to the interenet(s), and I have to say that I am mostly pleased as punch. It is a very straight-forward type of song, with the kind of urgency that Blonde Redhead haven't employed to this perfect an extent since Fake Can Be Just As Good. The lightly veiled piano, and fuzzbox landscape create an eerie atmosphere that is predictable, but really quite welcome. Kazu's nymph inspired vocals, which have always been the "make or break" point with Blonde Redhead (in regards to fans, anyway), is on full display and here she is in top form. She is able to convey this sort of damaged apprehensiveness that never seems forced or too dramatic. "23" is testament to Blonde Redhead's strengths as a cohesive outfit; there's never too much put on the table here, and that's why it works so well. Really, one of the better tracks I have heard so far this year.

You can hear this and one other track from 23 on Blonde Redhead's Myspace Page.

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