NYC art-rockers sacrifice grand scale for miniaturist precision
On their lucky seventh album, the members of Blonde Redhead perfect the moody post-shoegaze they’ve been tinkering with since they began rethinking the dissonant squall of their earlier work. On 23, sculpted layers of driving guitar, nightstalking keyboard, skittering percussion and boho-chic exhalations dream us into an understatedly dramatic pop-noir, one that’s simultaneously impressionistic and vivid. This doubled image is the result of the band’s fastidiousness—a lot of dreamy music uses a blunt chisel on big beautiful slabs, but Blonde Redhead is working in scrimshaw. On the title track, Kazu Makino’s liquid-cool purr rolls over a sleek pulse like neon reflections over a windshield, and on “SW” Amedeo Pace’s voice peals bell-clear, dripping with icy chimes amid the bottled power of glacial guitars and pianos. 23‘s mannered downtown aura and etched elegance are sustained for its duration, marking it as one of the prolific band’s finest to date.