8. Penny Sparkle (2011)

The interim between the release of Penny Sparkle and its catalogue predecessor 23 saw Blonde Redhead foray into making film music. Songbird Makino lent vocals to a soundtrack for a remake of Brian DePalma’s satanic Sisters, and the trio scored D&D documentary The Dungeon Masters. One of the band’s greatest gifts is their ability to dredge beauty from the darkest corners, so these new endeavors were an excellent slant on their existing output. The first bud from Penny Sparkle popped up on Record Store Day 2010, when 4AD released a 12″ of song sketches called Fragments From Work In Progress. The LP, which was essentially a sketchbook committed to wax, boasted single-track demos from Blonde Redhead, Gang Gang Dance, and other signees. Blonde Redhead’s contribution was the thin beginnings of “Not Getting There,” a fuller version of which would appear on Penny Sparkle. There’s horror-flick ephemera imbued into the album, but it is, unfortunately, their only full-length that fails to engage throughout its entire playing time. Hypnotic synths on album opener “Here Sometimes” weave you into the album and “Not Getting There” in its final state is like an industrial track stripped of its stark black paint and replaced with, well, sparkle. It’s a fine start, but doesn’t deliver the trademark punch they’d so-far delivered throughout their catalogue. Standouts include “Olso,” which is crafted with the same sonic recipe as “Getting There,” although with rounder synths and bass, as well as “Everything Is Wrong,” on which they hit closest to their signature sound. It’s an unfortunate title, really.

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