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– Blonde Redhead – Barragán (Kobalt Music Group)

Boxx Magazine | Blonde Redhead – Barragán (Kobalt Music Group)

Wednesday 14th October 2015,


Blonde Redhead – Barragán (Kobalt Music Group)

Jim Keller September 3, 2014

Overall Score

blonde redhead barragan

Barragá is the ninth studio album from New York City’s Blonde Redhead—a trio consisting of brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace (guitar/vocals and drums/vocals, respectively) and Kazu Makino (vocals/guitar). The band, first written off as a Sonic Youth copy, found its footing in the art-rock terrain. Blonde Redhead has since reinvented itself with every release, which keeps it fresh and hip. But unlike the trio’s previous albums, Barragá yields a mish-mash of meshugas.

Perhaps the album is best understood through film snapshots. While listening to the title track one might imagine they’re sitting creek-side while the The Dark Crystal’s Gelfling Jan plays the flute. Later, “The One I Love” evokes a Victorian, billowy, white wig-wearing and mandolin plucking Makino sitting in a chair as she sings “She does nothing all day, but sit down and cry / She touches the sky and wishes to die.”

But while Blonde Redhead’s signature sound has faded, remnants of yesteryear remain. “Lady M” may reference New York’s confectionary (or not), but the familiar sound is a welcome treat. Likewise, the first single “No More Honey” powerfully features Amedeo’s distorted guitar as it cuts through the ambience like a sieve.

Yet directionless tracks like “Cat on Tin Roof” and “Defeatist Anthem (Harry and I),” leave bitter aftertastes that eclipse the good inside. “Cat” features Makino’s contorted coo while a steady bass hums and guitar licks slip in and out of the aural playground. Whereas “Defeatist” relies on guitar repetition (à la the band’s Fake Can Be Just as Good album), but devolves into a Spanish guitar lilt and a campfire jam complete with didgeridoo.

The amalgam of Barragán battle one another instead of simmering to a satisfying mélange. Where Blonde Redhead once effortlessly paired noise-rock with lush, winding soundscapes, this latest effort is less sure and falls flat.