Borderline Psychotic—In a Good Way


With all the sub-sub-genre classifications that have emerged from New York this decade, psych-chic staple Blonde Redhead have barely escaped categorization, mainly because each album sounds just a teensy bit different than their last. If you compare their recent work to the Sonic Youthful avant-garde shoe-haze of the mid ’90s, you’ll see a remarkable difference. Which brings us to
23, an album full of more sprawling, psychedelic arrangements, something they’ve been perfecting recently. One constant, though: Kazu Makino’s siren-style voice is as hypnotic as ever, capable of dazing and confusing you without the aid of any substances.

Blonde Redhead has always been a rather deep band—not for the frail of heart or mind— and 23 keeps that tradition alive. Though the words are often indiscernible, themes of paranoia and loss run rampant, buoyed by the music’s eerie, borderline-psychotic feel.

That said, most of the cuts here are ethereal rockers, and though they’re not hooky per se, the layers of guitars and electronics built over fast drum rhythms keep your head bobbing, if only in confusion.

Chances are you’ll end up as freaked out as they seem to be. 23 is exactly what we’ve come to expect from this trio: a tension-filled exploration of the human psyche, blistering but still atmospheric. It meshes nicely with their already mind-bending catalog, even if it differs.

Blonde Redhead play Webster Hall May 8,