New York trio Blonde Redhead’s ninth studio album, Barragán (Spanish for “warrior”), is a low-key, minimalist affair that might take the unacquainted listener some time to adapt to — and put off some longtime fans due to its change in direction. But on repeated listening, an intriguing Zen-meets-krautrock aesthetic becomes evident. The title track is an understated instrumental beauty featuring woodwinds and acoustic guitar, while the sensual “Lady M” hooks the listener with its pleasurable melody and singer/guitarist Kazu Makino’s cryptically cooed lyrics: “Moon child Lady M / Lady M is for … / How many times have you? / Afterwards do they?/ Are they supposed to?” The third track, “Dripping” — which features drummer Simone Pace on vocals — is probably the album’s most accessible and danceable song, with its synth-pop atmospheric flavor and dreamy, falsetto chorus: “I saw you dripping sunlight / I saw you dripping moonlight.” Makino’s seductive phrasing is both airy and enigmatic on the bouncy sketch of a song “Cat on Tin Roof,” where she purrs: “I’ll let you know when I go away / You’ve got to move away.” Midway through, sung almost as an aside, she adds, “Maybe we should work on it a little bit more,” as though to emphasize the ephemeral, work-in-progress nature of the tune. Meanwhile, “The One I Love,” with its psychedelic structure and lyrics, could almost be a cousin to Pink Floyd’s early classic “See Emily Play.” Happily, “No More Honey” is the nearest song to the old-school Blonde Redhead shoegaze sound, replete with My Bloody Valentine–esque guitar warps. Although not for everyone — and arguably underdeveloped — Barragán is a grower for those with a taste for experimental and sparse arrangements and an appreciation of fleeting fragments of phantom songcraft.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
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