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Blonde Redhead
MISERY IS A BUTTERFLY
(4AD/Beggars Group)
Stars graphics

On Blonde Redhead’s last full-length, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons (Touch and Go), the NYC trio hinted at a softer side, while still clinging to their early roots in noisy Sonic Youth-style guitars. Misery Is a Butterfly is their first full album that jettisons cockeyed guitar tunings and noisy dissonance and doesn’t bring up the old Daydream Nation comparisons. Instead, they indulge their pop aspirations in a series of fluid, melodic ballads. Singer/guitarist Kazu Makino has never sounded more delicate — her vocals are devoid of the shrillness that’s marred them in the past. On "Elephant Woman" and "Magic Mountain" her voice recalls the childlike whispers of the Cardigans’ Nina Persson. Except for the final track, "Equus," fuzzy guitars are almost entirely absent. In their place are string arrangements and keyboard textures, which seem to nod in the direction of Serge Gainsbourg. Though they once relished jarring chords, Makino and singer/guitarist Amedeo Pace are content with much subtler guitar noodlings when they’re not lightly strumming acoustic guitars amidst a broad swath of accessible arrangements.

(Blonde Redhead appear this Friday, April 9, at the Paradise, 967 Commonwealth Avenue; call 617-423-NEXT.)

BY JEFF SKRUCK


Issue Date: April 9 - 15, 2004
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