Blonde Redhead: Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons (20th Anniversary Edition) (Touch and Go) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons (20th Anniversary Edition)

Touch and Go

Oct 07, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Sometimes it’s the little adjustments that make the biggest differences. Twenty years on, it still isn’t easy to pin down a major change in Blonde Redhead on their fifth album, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, but right away it was clear that it stood apart from the trio’s previous records.

“In Particular,” the first full song on the album after the lilting intro “Equally Damaged,” was an intentional declaration of scale. Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons would unveil a less abrasive model of Blonde Redhead. From the jolting screams on “I Don’t Want U” off their self-titled 1995 debut to the twisting up of Fake Can Be Just as Good’s “Kazuality” and “Luv Machine” from In an Expression of the Inexpressible, guitarist/vocalist Kazu Makino and twin brothers Amedeo (guitar/vocals) and Simone Pace (drums) had previously stepped into their albums in a stance of tight-necked tension. Here there was now some lightness and air, but a sense of foreboding still lingered.

“Lying on my back, I heard music/Felt unsure and catastrophic/Had to tell myself it’s only music/It blows my mind, but it’s like that,” breathes Makino over the song’s sinuous syncopation. The body of Melody is lithe yet dense, but after “In Particular” the band are quick to show with “Melody of Certain Three” that they haven’t shelved their attack. Blonde Redhead were at this moment in the prime of their multiple-album pairing with co-producer Guy Picciotto of Fugazi. “Back when we started, we were more a part of the D.C. scene then what was happening around us in New York,” Simone Pace said in a 2007 interview, a connection which came through particularly in the middle pair of “Hated Because of Great Qualities” and “Loved Despite of Great Faults,” where post-hardcore visits “House of the Rising Sun.”

Charged alignments were an established part of Blonde Redhead’s charisma, with Makino and Amedeo Pace then being in a relationship, but audience perception could differ from band reality. On this matter, the almost bouncy synth-led “This Is Not” is an existential dilemma with an origin story tucked inside: “And then by chance she met you and your brother/The moment she saw you/She knew you were made for her.” Scoured of a layer or two of noise, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons glinted with such flashes of clarity, and let Blonde Redhead see how they might build their sound back up in a different way on the albums that would come after. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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