Entering their third decade, the N.Y. based trio dropped their ninth studio album and first in four years on Tuesday, entitled “Barragán.”
Following it’s predecessor, “Penny Sparkle,” the album finds itself straying from the dissonant, lush noise that launched the band’s success, trading in their signature cheeky weirdness for contained minimalism.
The title track, “Barragán,” spanish word meaning warrior, gives the album a flute-lilted, Don Quixote-esque opening. Sounding like the beginning of an epic narrative, one would expect to be whisked away into a dreamscape of a story. Except, it doesn’t quite seem to go anywhere. Everything is so all over the map that it takes a few listens to warm up to but it definitely does not falter.
Vocalist Kazu Makino lulls listeners in “The One I Love.”
“She does nothing all day, but sit down and cry,” Makino coos in her angelic baby voice, accompanied by harpsichords and flutes.
Heading in yet another direction, “Dripping” has a driving beat and a definite Stone Roses groove. Electronic instruments are applied lavishly, with Simone Pace’s vocals sprinkled throughout.
The single “No More Honey” is the closest we get to pre-2010’s Blonde Redhead, with magnetic riffs courtesy of guitarist Amadeo Pace. Lyrically, Makino is right on point with prior albums, “Whatever you do, I won’t be sorry,” she warns delicately, before Pace’s guitar sweeps her away into a rainfall of pure Blonde Redhead shoegaze.
After “No More Honey,” the album slows down remarkably, with the mostly instrumental “Mine To Be Had” hitting just below the nine minute mark.
Closing out the album, however, is “Seven Two,” a beautifully haunting duet between ex-lovers singer Makino and guitarist Pace, ending everything on a pointed note.
“Barragán” is different in it’s funky, tightly contained and absolutely experimental. After being on the scene for over two decades, one can only appreciate the fact that Blonde Redhead is alive and well and not content with sticking to the same devices that captured audiences so long ago.
Long time listeners may turn their backs in disappointment but if you’re willing to embrace the unabashed weirdness that Blonde Redhead will forever be, “Barragán” is a fine addition to that collection of yours.