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Penny Sparkle

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (13 Sept. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: 4AD
  • ASIN: B003UDBSVO
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,938 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

BBC Review

Seventeen years. It’s an eternity. Countries have fallen and marriages have crumbled in less time, so it’s pretty remarkable that Blonde Redhead have not only survived this long but have continued to prosper, now releasing one of their finest works to date.

Penny Sparkle, their eighth official studio album, is a downbeat, glossed affair that largely dispenses with the busy guitar camouflage of past records in favour of glacially cool synth and Kazu Makino’s ice-maiden wail. They’re a band who’ve always possessed an understated beauty but where it might have seeped and soaked through previously, with the absence of the droning guitar dynamics heard on 2007’s 23, here it’s allowed to flourish.

The minimal plod of Will There Be Stars is an early indication of Penny Sparkle’s often bleak atmosphere – Kazu’s ethereal vocals are given a break – but perhaps more pertinently it also confirms a pointed move away from the powerful blankets of guitar that characterised earlier albums. The gentle heaving of My Plants Are Dead, as beautiful as it is, is wracked with whispering indecision – it feels ready and poised to explode into a track of the most grandiose splendour, but is ultimately allowed to ghost past.

While Blonde Redhead have always had the capability to be a band who lavishly build it up just to deconstruct, and we took delight in that once upon a time, Penny Sparkle’s restrained, almost tentative indulgence echoes a fresh sentiment that buys into the idea that the biggest statements don’t necessarily have to be the loudest.

Several albums in, the intent is very much on re-focusing and refining, and there’s a clandestine balance throughout this album. Synths buzz and murmur without over burdening Kazu’s vocal; the percussion is clean and crisp; and arrangements burn slowly instead of dazzling. It’s a rising sound that’s both bleak and terse. Always building and beautiful, their sparse, even minimal, approach lends Penny Sparkle a complexity that’s both rich and rewarding in both its inspiration and execution.

Seamless and polished, unhurried and regularly wonderful, Blonde Redhead are sparkling with a new-found black beauty.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a really amazing album. Don't recall any other band who after 18 years are still progressing and taking the listener to new planets. Thanks Glen Johnson for turning me onto them way back in 1995. Yes they were intense then & they are still intense. Every track here is breathtaking. One after one they grab your heart twist & turn it into little pieces. 'Here Sometimes', 'Not Getting There', 'Will There Be Stars', 'My Plants Are Dead', 'Love Or Prison', 'Oslo', 'Penny Sparkle', 'Everything Is Wrong', 'Black Guitar' & the exceedingly brilliant 'Spain'. Kazu with her fragile beautiful voice & via the melodic backing of Amedeo & Simone then the end result is simply astonishing. It is hard to understand all the lyrics but what I hear or grasp is breathtakingly inspirational but in any case you can find them beautifully presented with both the LP & CD artwork. Would say that over the last three years that this has been the album that have played the most & the vinyl version is simply sublime. When ever I feel down & out then this is the LP that I turn to, to lift my spirits.
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By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Sept. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Blonde Redhead are singer Kazu Makino and twins Simone
and Amadeo Pace. They have been making music since 1993
and their new album 'Penny Sparkle' took me by surprise,
partly because I hadn't heard them before but mostly
because this is such a lovely recording.

Together this fine little trio demonstrate the more
gentle face of contemporary electro-pop. This has a
great deal to do with Ms Makino's fragile and very
pretty voice (not unlike that of Lali Puna's Valerie
Trebeljahr at times) which glides effortlessly through
the ten numbers in this creditable collection.

The formula is an uncomplicated but effective one.
Uncluttered rhythm tracks are decorated with layers
of diaphanous synth chords and occasional guitar
accents. The pace of the music is uniformly slow to
mid-paced and I cannot imagine that anyone came even
close to breaking a sweat during its creation.
('Not Getting There' is about as sprightly as things get!)

'Love Or Prison' is a particularly interesting invention.
Not unlike Berlin's splendid 1986 song 'Take My Breath Away',
it trundles along laconically on the back of a fruity synth
obligato with Ms Makino's voice floating above it like a ghost.

'Your Plants Are Dead', as its title might suggest, is a
marvelously maudlin affair. The melody, however, is one of the
strongest in the bunch and even though the somewhat wayward
guitar tuning is a tad distracting (perhaps it's meant to be
that way!) it still manages to be one of the album's highlights.

Title track 'Penny Sparkle' is a haunting composition.
Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
A well produced new album by the NYC trio, with some more beats than the previous album, and the distinctive voice of Kazu Makino along with the Pace brothers.
The 8th studio album is a nicely organized set of tracks, combining colorful tunes with darker ones in perfect harmony.
For fans the album is a must, specially in the Deluxe Edition, with plenty of design details to admire.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I like it , but not nearly as much as the other 4 albums of theirs that I have, it seems more distant & less intense/ exciting
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