Blonde Redhead: Penny Sparkle

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Blonde Redhead
Penny Sparkle
(4AD)

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Artists can take their work in different directions and experiment without losing themselves in the process. Blonde Redhead is a band that is able to rethink and reinvent their style without losing that beautiful and intangible mystery. On their new album, Penny Sparkle, they prove, once again, that they can evolve and enlighten us. 

While other albums, like La Mia Vita Violenta and Misery Is a Butterfly, possess more dissonant and organic instrumentation, Penny Sparkle takes us on a slower trot. The dreamy, synth soundscapes that cover this album are the result of a collaboration with production duo Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid, who are best known for Fever Ray’s debut. 

Just like 23, the band’s new album was mixed by Alan Moulder, one of Britain’s premier shoegaze producers who also did Nine Inch Nail’s The Downward Spiral and The Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream. The album was recorded in both New York and Stockholm. 

Penny Sparkle is a bit more pensive and a lot less frantic and impulsive than previous ones, but it’s equally as mystical, beautiful, and engaging. Songs like “Spain,” “Oslo,” and “Black Guitar” remain with you hours after you’ve listened to them, coloring the day around you. The beautiful gloom creates an icy and hypnotic soundtrack for listeners wherever they go. 

The album’s lyrics allude, but don’t tell. Although Penny Sparkle may initially lose some lovers of Blonde Redhead’s post-punk days of yore, the album is an artistic step and a tasteful reinterpretation of their sound. We can listen again and again to appreciate their progression and hard work and let it gently grow on us in the way Blonde Redhead songs always do.

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