Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons

...they are some of the most uncompromising, wildly original music-makers in America.

If you’ve ever heard of underground deities [a]Blonde Redhead[/a], you will know they are some of the most uncompromising, wildly original music-makers in America. Either that, or, you’ll have been left cold by their extremities. Originally noted for their urgent, [a]Sonic Youth[/a]-influenced guitar barrages, and often ear-tweaking lad/lass yowling, they’ve mutated over the course of four albums from gifted no wave racketeers to something altogether more alluring.

They remain three: one Japanese New Yorker, Kazu Makino, and two Italian New Yorkers, twins Simone and Amedeo Pace. But this intense trio – Kazu and Simone were once an item – has been joined by a new, clavinet-wielding presence: a love for pared-down sound. There’s only one all-out art riot on here, ‘Mother’, and its tumbling urgency and demented vocals come as a (calculated) shock after the tremulous beauty that’s gone before.

It’s as though all the contrariness of [a]Blonde Redhead[/a]’s angular past has dissolved into a fascination with pop (‘This Is Not’), ’60s soundtracks (‘Melody Of Certain Three’) and naked piano ballads (‘For The Damaged’, featuring one of The Black Heart Procession on the ivories) without sacrificing any of the heart-stopping dynamics or confessional psychodramas. Indeed ‘This Is Not’ is a kind of ballad of Kazu and Simone, which progresses into an essay on freedom and intellectual restlessness, and resolves in cheery “la la la”s. Remarkable, then – and now, actually listenable.