Pic by Becky Ross
The Social, Nottingham
I let my daughter do my make-up tonight. She has a delicate touch, combined with an innate understanding of excessive face paint and its ability to charm and to declare war. She smears my lids with metallic shadow and turns my mouth into a pouting, pink, puffed-up pot of farting putty. After showering me in glitter she leads me outside for her friends to laugh at, but they look palpably traumatised. I expect Social Services will be informed.
In the rear-view on the M69, I turn myself on. I’m driving to a different town, one where the women outnumber the men, to watch Blonde Redhead, and I just want to look how they make me feel. Hell, they made me try again – I need this band. So much of my obsession with them is in their look, and they look like they could be the most beautiful band in the world tonight. And so much of my obsession with them is their music, their wild romance and bitter awareness of love’s confinements. I love them like I love F Scott Fitzgerald, because there’s that same intimacy and instinct with words. They have the same directness; that sense of artistry becoming one with the heart rather than throwing up walls around it.
Tonight, the older songs work for me as a remembrance of my personality flaws past, tracks from Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons and In An Expression Of The Inexpressible (the album that kicked off this affair) putting a ferocity into a gaze that I had been too weary to keep up anymore. Songs from the more recent Misery Is A Butterfly, particularly a stunning ‘Elephant Woman’ and ‘Anticipation’, crashland with you on your current conveyor belt to God. These songs are more at ease with the waste of their beauty, the poignant inadequacy of each gorgeous shard under the weight of the cosmos. Beyond the look and beyond the lineage lies the key to Blonde Redhead’s real ambiguity. It’s in the mixing of the eternal themes from within with the brittle precarious shell that surrounds. Crushed love songs that draw their power from a dead-eyed realisation of their own inability to save Blonde Redhead.
When Kazu sings there is no sense of exorcism or deliverance. The only redemption going on here is entirely selfish, the knowledge that, as you cast yourself into the flames, your body found walking on air at the end of a rope will be a body finally loved again. As such, Blonde Redhead send me buzzing back home. I feel like they’re watching me now, checking on their believers, making sure none of us slip – they are ultimately suicidal music in the truest, non-gothic, non-obvious sense and for that I applaud them and need them like water and cigarettes and a routine. As safety valve, as magic mirror, as a journey into the secret world of everything you’ve ever known. My life’s untenable without them.