Blonde Redhead - Sit Down For Dinner LP (Clear White Vinyl)
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Sit Down for Dinner Review by Heather Phares
On Penny Sparkle and Barragán, Blonde Redhead sounded so ephemeral that the music seemed ready to evaporate in an instant. On Sit Down for Dinner, however, the trio bring their quintessentially elegant, mysterious music down to earth. Inspired by death and other separations from loved ones (most notably the passing of Kazu Makino's beloved horse and her distance from her family in Japan during the COVID-19 global pandemic), they seize the moment with a fuller, richer sound and some of their most gripping songs in years. All of this is immediately apparent on the hypnotic opening track "Snowman," which reaches back to the Brazilian sounds that influenced Makino and Simone and Amadeo Pace's earliest musical experiments and drapes them in swaying layers of backing vocals and percussion. The largely acoustic palette makes Sit Down for Dinner's dreams and fantasies feel more immersive and that much closer to reality than on some of Blonde Redhead's other albums; the driving rhythm on the impossibly romantic, Makino-sung standout "Kiss Her Kiss Her" seems to nudge a pair of star-crossed lovers closer to each other. Likewise, the songwriting is just direct enough to keep listeners riveted. "I really care about you," Amadeo sings on "Not for Me," a plain-spoken declaration of devotion to someone faraway that feels eloquent when coupled with its haunting surroundings. "Before" updates the band's wounded chamber pop with tumbling choruses that are as catchy as they are graceful, but Sit Down for Dinner's evocative writing allows them to branch out on "I Thought You Should Know," an epic ballad that channels the sweep of "Wild Horses" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with surprising conviction, and "Melody Experiment," where they discover new ways to swoon by fusing dream-pop with trip-hop and dub. Throughout the album, Blonde Redhead give the beauty of their music a newfound ease, even when Makino considers the honor and responsibility of carrying someone in your heart forever once they're gone on the tender "Rest of Her Life." They also delicately explore closeness and distance on Sit Down for Dinner's two-part title track, which drifts by like a ghost before snapping to attention to reflect on mortality ("I know you're tired of living/But dying is not so easy"). In much the same way that 23 felt like a necessary revamping of their music, Sit Down for Dinner finds Blonde Redhead revitalized. Arriving nearly a decade after Barragán and 30 years after they formed, it's a return to be savored.