If you’re not already languishing in an intricate maze of heartbreak, maybe you should be, especially if you’re considering buying the latest album, Misery Is a Butterfly, from the New York City-based art rock band Blonde Redhead.
As the first album since moving from Touch & Go to 4AD, the 11 songs play like a haunting testimony of disturbed love from the first track, “Elephant Woman,” all the way through to the album’s closer “Eqws,” the closest thing to a rock song on the entire record.
The aptly named album presents us with all the beauty and torment of romantic catastrophe in the haunting voices of Kazu Makino and the sincerity of Amedeo Pace, who both also double for lead guitarists, accompanied by Amedeo’s twin brother Simone on drums and Maki Takahashi on bass. The high drama literary vignettes such as “Melody” and the title track are infused with lush orchestral sounds while the echoing strings and insistent piano hooks of “Falling Man” make for catchy and infectious indie pop. Meanwhile, the lyrically ambiguous “Anticipation” is the weakest link in the sonic story line, but the instrumental ambience is consistent throughout.
On Misery Is a Butterfly, the group makes a departure from the experimental franticness of their previous albums and distance themselves from the Sonic Youth comparisons that were thrown around earlier in their career so much so that a more fitting comparison might be Cocteau Twins.
This is not exactly a record to put on for getting dolled up on a Saturday night; it would fare better on a desperate Sunday evening spent contemplating your fear of intimacy and the exquisiteness of unrequited love, tapping your toe all the while.
[Ilissa Mira has yet to learn of the mysterious new Artsweek writer rituals. Mwaaahahaha.]