Blonde Redhead Penny Sparkle

Blonde Redhead Penny Sparkle
Blonde Redhead's eighth studio album marks another departure from the screeching no wave they first introduced us to back in 1995. But unlike the jarring transition that came with 2000's Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, Penny Sparkle's deviation is much more subdued, as they've pared down the guitars and pushed up the electronics. Those seduced by the band's hazy, cotton swabbed production on 2007's 23 can take solace in the return of Alan Moulder as mixer and the work of producers Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid (Fever Ray). By assigning the guitars to the background, that kinetic chemistry between Kazu Makino and Amedeo Pace seldom appears, as on droning album highpoint "My Plants Are Dead." But as they've demonstrated with virtually every album, Blonde Redhead choose these progressions like carefully calculated chess moves. Being masters of any instrument they touch, they digest the sprawling synths and dub-beats on the title track and "Spain," and infuse the type of gurgling, electro-infused rock Depeche Mode patented on single "Not Getting There." With Penny Sparkle, Blonde Redhead's metamorphosis stays on track, giving fans one more reason to continue appreciating the work of this innovative trio. (4AD)