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May 4, 2004

{     Blonde Redhead, Misery is a Butterfly     }    

Misery is a Butterfly, Blonde Redhead's sixth record, drags you into your subconcious, leaves you there floating around for awhile, and then brings you back feeling a little bewildered but satisfied, like what happens during a long nap or make-out session. This record feels incubated, like it's been carefully nursed along, unhurried, from a spare concept to a lush and mournful spell. Between layers of violin, cello, clavinet, guitar, and super-crisp drumming, the chilling vocals of Kazu Makino and Amedeo Pace drift unpredictably. After hearing the current crop of throaty songsters who've showboated into big record deals, it's thrilling to hear Makino's unpretentious voice. And Pace's voice, which is attractively nasal, is also expressive without being overly ornamented. As a whole, Misery is a Butterfly sounds startlingly honest. It's not over-the-top, it's not wacky or contrived. Blonde Redhead circumvents indie-rock artificiality. They transcend any need for image. They use every technique for a reason, and doing so, they achieve a brilliant mood on this record. Standout tracks include the lolling disco 'Equus,' which is (deliciously) just a touch slower than expected; the title track, a moody example of the layering on this album; and 'Anticipation,' a bittersweet clavinet-laden lament. The ornate artwork and layout, as far as I can tell, is styled after my grandmother's old wallpaper. It's covered in curios and incongruous images, like a dusty thrift-shop oddity. The fancy die-cut booklet is very classy indeed. - Written by Vikki Warner

     » 4AD Records' Blonde Redhead site

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