As the name (which actually comes from a DNA song) suggests, New York’s Blonde Redhead incorporates a rich variety of sometimes contrasting ideas. Formed by twin Italian brothers (on guitar and drums) and two unrelated Japanese women (on guitar and bass), the group fuses a hodgepodge of post-punk sounds into a tasty melting pot.
The quartet’s first album led to its reputation as a Sonic Youth protégé too deeply in thrall to that band’s influence — and not without cause. SY drummer Steve Shelley produced and released the album on his own label, and his group’s guitar sound and song structures clearly inform Blonde Redhead‘s eight songs, which include both warped pop nuggets (“Sciuri Sciura”) and trippy guitar forays (“I Don’t Want U”). As guitarists Kazu Makino and Amedeo Pace trade off vocals on these alternately catchy and groovy songs, what makes the record substantial is the group’s application of these familiar ideas in new, creative ways. There’s much more at work here than mere flattery.
Having lost its bassist, Blonde Redhead recorded La Mia Vita Violenta as a trio, displaying a far more distinctive sound — not abandoning the warm, fuzzy Sonic-isms but allowing its own personalities to take the lead. The vocals are much stronger and clearer in the mix — Pace’s fuller, Makino’s transformed into a passionate, high-pitched (at times cloying) squeal. Their guitar playing is likewise improved, producing a glistening tangle of melodic sounds. The punky “(I Am Taking Out My Eurotrash) I Still Get Rocks Off” is strengthened by a malleable structure within the confines of a pretty catchy tune, while the sitar-laced “Harmony” reveals an open ear for altogether different aural landscapes.