For the better part of their 21 years, Blonde Redhead's intimate and patterned songwriting style have made them a unique voice in indie rock. With their last three albums, in particular, they developed into makers of elegiac dream pop. Although 2010's uneven Penny Sparkle failed to win over critics, Barragán marks a return to their intricate form.
Produced by Drew Brown (Radiohead, Beck), the band were urged to limit their arrangements, shedding the many layers they used over the last decade's output for a more scaled-back approach. These boundaries forced them to experiment, causing them to sound more vulnerable than ever.
Despite the minimalistic approach, the songs are hardly skeletal, and mostly escalate to sublime heights of winding soft noise. "Dripping" trickles slick grooves to complement Amadeo Pace's spectral voice and some scaling synths. On "Mind To Be Had," they ride a throbbing motorik beat for five minutes before Pace even utters a word.
Kazu Makino, meanwhile, sounds as angelic as ever over the clouds of stuttering rhythm and guitars that flutter on "Defeatist Anthem (Harry and I)," only then to flip the script with a cool-as-a-cucumber tone on the teasingly playful "Cat On Tin Roof."
Barragán is not an album determined to grab you in one listen; it's a "grower," as they say, but once it grows, it's apparent there's no shortage of baroque delights to discover on this veteran band's ninth album. (Kobalt)