Blonde Redhead find themselves in an increasingly unique place among their contemporaries. Though they began as a product of the mid-’90s underground scene in New York City—their first single being released almost 30 years ago to the day—they’ve undergone considerable evolution since that era. Their newest record Sit Down For Dinner is not a reunion, a reboot or reimagining. Blonde Redhead, comprising the trio of Kazu Makino, Amedeo Pace and Simone Pace, have never been a particularly prolific band, but they have been a persistent one, chugging along admirably while never settling into monotony. Sit Down For Dinner, a record that took the band almost five years to produce, is no different. It finds the band less in a state of reinvention than accumulation, taking what they’ve learned over their 30-year tenure and creating a nuanced and unhurried collection of songs that rank among their best.
One of the defining characteristics of Sit Down For Dinner is just how damned beautiful this record is from front to back. This is a headphones record through and through, one that unfurls itself slowly by way of a dozen listens, its simplicity a welcome deception. A song like “Not For Me” layers synths and acoustic strumming atop a riverbed of vocals from Amedeo Pace in a way that would come across as chaotic if not given such care. It’s evidence of what can happen with more time and space to write and record. You can almost hear the many rewrites, edits, collaboration and painstaking thought that went into Sit Down For Dinner.
Yet none of it feels particularly overcooked. Some of that can be attributed to the collaborators the band brought in to help bring these songs to life, which includes production work from Andrea Ciacchini and Sam Owens (aka Sam Evian), who work to wrangle the disparate parts into an effective whole. All of which add up to make for some of the most effective moments in the band’s entire discography. You simply don’t get the final minute of album opener “Snowman”—rhythmic, suave, and cryptic—without the confidence that can only come with time and intentionality. Ditto for “Before,” which this time features Makino in the lead amid a similarly lush bed of understated percussion and untethered vocal flourishes.
From a narrative standpoint, the record hinges, appropriately, on the dual title tracks “Sit Down For Dinner Pt. 1” and “Sit Down For Dinner Pt. 2.” What dinner represents seems to vary for Blonde Redhead’s three members but the idea of consistency—how comforting it can be to maintain and terrifying it is to lose—remains at the front of their mind. “We all had plans before, then we got hit,” sings Makino on “Pt. 1.” It’s a reference to the specific ache that came from her inability to see her family during the pandemic, but speaks to a much larger idea of fate and the unpredictability of time. Blonde Redhead may be 30 years and 10 records into their career, but it doesn’t make the existence Sit Down For Dinner any less miraculous, or the result any less impressive.
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