Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Blonde Redhead’s glorious return with Sit Down For Dinner succeeds in dazzling

"Sit Down For Dinner"

Release date: 29 September 2023
Blonde Redhead Sit Down For Dinner cover
27 September 2023, 09:00 Written by Simon Heavisides

An innocuous title hides a reminder of the random fragility of existence.

In part taken from Joan Didion’s 2005 account of bereavement, written after her husband’s sudden death as he did exactly that, there’s also a more hopeful reference here to the ritual of communication with loved ones that comes from ‘breaking bread’ together.

Blonde Redhead seem to have had multiple careers within their overarching span of existence. From those squally, sometimes dissonant, early NYC indie days over 30 years ago to the immaculate off-centre shoegaze majesty of their middle years and all points in between, up to now when strangely, somehow, they still feel ‘new’.

If it had all ended with 2014’s brittle, and on balance disappointing, Barragán that would have felt like such an anticlimactic denouement. Fingers were crossed for another act and now that hope is rewarded with Sit Down for Dinner.

Conceived by Kazu, Amedeo and Simone over an extended period beginning back in early lockdown. Where its predecessor felt unfinished Sit Down for Dinner is as complete an entity as their arguable high point; 23. For now they’ve successfully synthesised the various strands of that long history to create something seamless and fresh. Where last time round there was awkwardness and dissonance to work through, now we have luxurious melody and elegiac beauty – you can and will lose yourself here.

Maybe they were just testing us with Barragán, certainly, this new Blonde Redhead is as playful as ever, displaying the intuitive subtlety of people who after all this time clearly know each other inside out as artists and perhaps also as humans.

Full of subtlety and deft unshowy skill, this is an album that wears its often serious subject matter lightly and so holds the power to surprise and wrong-foot an unsuspecting listener. And yes – it’s often devastatingly gorgeous.

Early on “Kiss Her Kiss Her” with its enveloping chamber-gaze, smuggles in a picture of tragic dreams, far-fetched, often unachievable but to be celebrated anyway, the antithesis of the simplistic standard issue ‘American’ variety.

Illustrating many of the album’s defining characteristics in microcosm; the cheekily titled “Melody Experiment” is warm, inviting and hypnotic, smooth shifts in tempo helping to imbed its melodic arrows deep within your skin, Kazu drifting above the action while worryingly issuing a warning to “stay away from here.” Out in front of a synth hovering like heat haze on the horizon, she unfurls a lyric full of confusion and ambiguity with the added drama of either cliff-edge oblivion or rocketship exile, before giving way to a drum break and guitar stretching out to oblivion. In the end, love itself is obvious – or is it?

Sit Down for Dinner seems to have an underlying sense of calm amidst the chaos of life, possibly nowhere more so than on the two-part title track. Kazu’s vocal deals in the sadness and stunned bewilderment of a person hit by the arbitrary horror of life, containing the hard-won knowledge that, no matter how hard you try to hold on, it makes no difference in the end.

Alternately dreamily anxious and immaculately groovy it marks the stunning apex of an intensely satisfying record. Just don’t forget that what comes next will be different again.

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