Misery Is a Butterfly

Blonde Redhead wants to creep you out, but in a good way. Ten years on, this New York threesome has shed the dissonance of its early efforts, with Kazu Makino's breathy voice striking a note of dreamy anxiety that will speak to fans of the Cure or Björk. Swirling, melancholy melodies echo the romantic sweep of a vintage Italian film score, as lonely guitars and low-budget keyboards add ominous drama. Like R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, Makino excels at understated intensity, whether murmuring "I must have felt so much pain" on "Doll Is Mine" or "learning how to fall" on the jittery "Falling Man." When the band finally erupts with "Equus," the punchy rocker that closes the album, the sense of release is palpable.
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