Posted by: detourmag on June 29, 2007 at 2:15 pm

BLONDE REDHEAD, 23 (4AD, 2007)
Blonde Redhead’s seventh full-length refines even further the trio’s diamond-edge New York City cool. Vocalist Kazu Makino and instrumentalists (and brothers) Simone and Amedeo Pace are international and local — expats who’ve made their home in NYC’s downtown scene — and the music they make has caught up with their collective aura, exploring rough edges, dream-pop texture, and straight-up accessibility all at once. But there is such a thing as being too pop for the indie crowd and too strange for the mainstream, and such is the purgatory of 23.

“Silently,” with its obvious ode to “Baby Love” and the girl group melodies of The Supremes, would be happy on the radio. But its easily lovable groove will turn off those expecting something less digestible — while waiting in line for Misshapes or whatever, they’ve been conditioned to like what’s abrasive or indifferent, not what’s catchy. But that’s their problem. The most upbeat moment on 23, “Spring and By Summer Fall,” will stick in your brain for days on end with its danceable beat and catchy hook. Just try to get the earworm of “Tell me where you’ve been/ Tell me what you saw” out of your ears without a worthier jingle. 23′s increased pop sensibility is, in-part, the result of a tune-up by famed producer Alan Moulder (U2, Depeche Mode), who was called in to tweak the band’s unconfident attempts at self-production. The inclusion of electronic textures only adds to the otherworldly mystery of 23, and while they’re usually used as slight touches, they dominate “Heroine,” one of the record’s darkest moments. On the relationship drama “The Dress,” Makino taunts “Don’t let the dress trick you/ I love you less now that I know you” with plenty of venom to hide the emotional ache lurking beneath the surface. And while 23 isn’t a perfect record, it will only disappoint those hard-to-please, fickle downtowners hoping the band would turn and run in the opposite direction. — Natalie B. David


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