Misery Is a Butterfly (4AD)

Blonde Redhead 

Misery Is a Butterfly (4AD)

If Blonde Redhead songs were films, they'd be subtitled art-house shorts populated by nameless Europeans -- crackly black-and-white worlds, each devoted to a single emotion or existential idea, involving brushes with death, the juggling of fragile hearts, Old World architecture, foamy shorelines or high-speed Vespa chases. This cinematic, impressionistic bent has always been present in the New York City trio's music. Its first pair of albums, Blonde Redhead (1994) and La Mia Vita Violenta (1995), were released on Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley's Smells Like Records label and sounded the part. By the late '90s, their artiness turned aggro, more suited to Touch & Go, which released Fake Can Be Just As Good (1997) and In an Expression of the Inexpressible (1998). For the mellower Misery Is a Butterfly, the band drops the synth stabs of 2000's Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons as well as its usual abrupt rushes. As before, the effortlessly lovely results alternate between guitarists Kazu Makino's anesthetized, ethereal slur and Amedeo Pace's exchange-student drawl. But as a bonus, clavinets, violins and other strings quilt the familiar, unsteady undertow of Simone Pace's stick work and the push-pull axes. The two guitarists bring their voices together for "Pink Love," a hot spring of digitized burbling, echoing vocals and blissful ignorance.

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