Some bands have an uncanny ability to delight—something in the sound, the vibe, the singer’s voice, the combination of melody and rhythm, or something even more elusive, feels just right, entices the ear before any actual “hooks” or “catchy parts” arrive. Blonde Redhead is that kind of band. There are no hooks or catchy parts in “Here Sometimes,” a song that appeals deeply, at a level likely beyond analysis.
But me being me, I’m still going to try to break it down a little. And so first: listen to the opening section, in which Kazu Makino sings over a rhythmic accompaniment that itself is an inscrutable blend of an organic and electronic beat. She sings a leisurely, wistful, slightly complex melody that stretches out over 20 measures, with a couple of thoughtful pauses. A synthesizer joins very subtly along the way, but 49 seconds pass before the music starts in earnest—a mix of disparate keyboard sounds and a deliberate, syncopated bass line. And listen now to how the chords described by the instruments floating through the background change the melody dramatically. (Compare, for instance, the sound at 0:24 to 1:04—same melodic point, entirely different experience.) It’s an odd song, instrumentally, come to think of it, lacking any obvious “lead” instrument or even any sort of dominant sound; we get one 15-second synthesizer break (2:00) but even that is elusive, featuring sounds that evanesce if you listen too closely. I think the instrumental vagueness is part of what gives “Here Sometimes” its dreamy force, not to mention thematic resonance (the idea of being “here sometimes,” but not all the time).
Makino has been in Blonde Redhead with twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace since 1993. The band used to be larger but has been a trio since the mid-’90s. “Here Sometimes” will appear on the album Penny Sparkle, which is coming in September on 4AD. It’ll be their eighth album, and their first since 2007. MP3 via Better Propaganda.