Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons
Touch And Go
By: Eric G.
Blonde Redhead’s upward trajectory from record to record is frighteningly steep. The band has shed its latent Sonic Youth influence and become a fully formed monster all its own – a step that was close to completion with 1998’s In An Expression Of The Inexpressible, but Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons confirms that Blonde Redhead is way ahead of its peers with songs that combine innovative electronics, eerily melodic guitars and tense, high-end vocals.
Blonde Redhead is slowly moving away from its noisy early records towards a more streamlined yet equally experimental path. The presence of piano adds a distilled element to the band’s increasingly inventive sound. “In Particular” surprisingly incorporates handclaps and programmed beats behind Kazu Makino’s child-like and shrill voice. The song relies on a metronomic beat and repetitive but clean guitars to produce the uncharacteristically futuristic tone. “Melody Of Certain Three” is slightly more recognizable as Blonde Redhead with discordant but still relatively clean guitars and Amedo Pace’s strained and melodic vocals.
“Hated Because Of Great Qualities” emphasizes lots of sustained blue notes and Makino sounds seductive and bratty all at once. Her voice evokes conflicting emotions- it sounds innocent at first but further listening reveals a masochistic bent. Blonde Redhead no longer achieves tension through a wall of discordant guitar interplay; the music may be less abrasive, but it is no less menacing. Don’t worry- Blonde Redhead hasn’t succumbed to any kind of cliched maturation process; it’s just become a better band.
Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons is that rare type of record that has an immediate allure but also becomes more engaging with every additional listen. Lyrically, the record continues in a slightly ambiguous but very personal vein: “For me you flower to be chosen/I fall down to be noticed/where do we go from here/I don’t know” (“Loved Despite Great Faults”). “This Is Not” is the poppiest track the band has ever recorded, slipping in a flashy, early eighties synthesizer line, which adds yet another dimension to the band’s complex sound.
The album ends on a distressing note with Makino’s caustic shrieking over top pitsol shot snare rolls. The guitars descend in sort of an anti-surf scale, and it ends abruptly- almost as if to say ‘we can still make just as much noise as we used to.’ Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons is easily going to be a contender for album of the year even though it’s only April. There is no doubt.