Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #86 Blonde Redhead - Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons
The Top 100 Influential Artists of the Decade list and the Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post an artist and album and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist and #1 album of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
We spoke a little bit yesterday about Blonde Redhead's staying power as keen and somewhat neurotic reactionaries in the music world. Today, they land at #86 on our top albums list, with 2000's Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. It is an album skewered with haphazardness, populated by an army of curious tweaks and tics - both vocal and instrumental. No album is without its flaws; this one lifts the flaws onto a pedestal, adorning them with an elaborate wreath of thematic power.
Melody... is marked by humanism, though you get the notion that Blonde Redhead captured that humanism by pinning it down and beating it into submission. It flutters schizophrenically between care and recklessness, and from front to end the album stands in front of you like a troubled child, with its moments of warmth checked by passive fear and its neurotic breakdowns checked by superhuman willpower. On the stable side, we have the exacting loneliness of "In Particular" or the matronly piano of "For the Damaged." In the latter, Kazu Makino sings of being "equally damaged," as if reparation for emotional brutality is to seduce others, somehow, into the same damaged state. The other face of this album shows itself immediately after "For The Damaged," transitioning into devil's musicbox that is "Mother" - a release of demonic yelling, jilted drums and guitars that sweep around the mix like a race car with flames shooting out the engine. Perhaps the album's best track, "Melody of Certain Three," wraps up these dichotomies with a sort of crushing detachment: "crawl like a child / move like a man...when I am so timid, you are my words / when I am effective you act like a stone." Something is always reining us back to the mid-point, where we find balance between wildly fluctuating states. That is the beauty of this album - it is equal parts wrecked and wondrous, and it manages a strange resolution - a tenuous compromise - that sticks with the listener long after the last piano note ushers itself out.