Friday, March 7, 2008

Blonde Redhead vs. My Bloody Valentine

By Jen Eide

I can only think of a handful of albums that I played as often as Blonde Redhead's 23 last year. But occasionally when you sit down to write about one of your favorite albums you find yourself rendered completely inarticulate. Since 23 made so many Best of 2007 lists--including my own--I'm content to let it go unreviewed. Here's the video for the title track.

I will say that on more than one occasion a customer came up to the counter to ask what was playing and I accidentally replied "My Bloody Valentine." 23 does have the same kind of heavily processed sonic guitar wash as MBV's Loveless, and both bands also feature alternating male and female vocalists. Recently I've been wondering if my love of the Blonde Redhead album is merely rooted in nostalgia for the sound of MBV's 1991 post-punk classic--especially since I seem so completely unable to articulate just what it is that I like so much about 23. But 23 seems more substantial than just a throwback to me. The vocals are brighter, the drummer utilizes the hi-hat a bit more giving it a danceable feel, and it seems to be coming from a place that is not as psychologically dark as Loveless.

Having said that, it is ironic that the Blonde Redhead and MBV videos are so visually similar as well. Take a look--here is the video for MBV's "Soon."

In a previous post, Steve mentioned the 33 1/3 books that we carry. Each book explores an album in depth, and the one on MBV's Loveless is an interesting read, especially if you are interested in the details of how the music was recorded in the studio. The book also gives some insight into the genesis of the psychological darkness present on this album, which I alluded to above. Sleeplessness, abusive ex-partners, pressures from the band's label, and the slow breaking apart of a relationship all add to the murky brilliance that became Loveless.

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