Penny Sparkle
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Penny Sparkle

September 14, 2010

  Song Title
Here Sometimes
Not Getting There
Will There Be Stars
My Plants Are Dead
Love Or Prison
Penny Sparkle
Everything Is Wrong
Black Guitar

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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: September 13, 2010
  • Label: 4AD
  • Copyright: 2010 4AD Ltd
  • Total Length: 43:56
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B00419CF8Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,938 Paid in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 Paid in MP3 Albums)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not their best, but still quite good September 16, 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
While I agree with some of the criticism that's been aimed at Penny Sparkle, I also think that there's a lot to like about the album. I'm not going to slam it, but I'm also not calling it a modern classic. In a nutshell, I'd say it's a good album that's nowhere near as good as what they're capable of. Here's what I like and dislike about it:

On the plus side, this really makes a beautiful late-night chill-out album, balancing between dreaminess and melancholy, but leaning more towards the latter (where e.g. their previous album "23" is more dreamy). The production is excellent, with a lot of silence allowed to stay in the songs, giving the album a similar feel to e.g. The Cure's Seventeen Seconds and Thom Yorke's solo album, which both seem to play as much with the silence between the instruments as with the actual music. (And before people start howling: yes, I realize those two albums are very different from Penny Sparkle in other respects, and I'm not making value-judgments about them here - just pointing out a similar, spare, melancholy atmosphere - another one is "100th Window" by Massive Attack, now I think of it). The beats somehow sound at the same time crisp and muted, and Kazu's vocals are lovely as ever. There's also some really gorgeous synth textures floating around in the songs, and a lot of detail that only pops out after you've heard the songs a handful of times. This is one of those albums you'll enjoy more on a good set of headphones.

On the negative - well, unfortunately I feel that the songs, especially in the middle third of the album, at times start to blend into each other a bit too much. The first two tracks are excellent, and there are a few gems to be found later on, but it starts to sound a bit samey-samey as the album winds towards the end.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Album of the Year? Maybe. If not that, certainly the most beautiful. One thing I can say for sure is that Blonde Redhead's latest will undoubtedly make it into my 2010 list of favorites. First and foremost, I'm no authority on the band: I know they've been around for a while and have a ton of albums I have yet to listen to, but their last 2 LPs (2007's "23" and 2004's "Misery Is A Butterfly") were outstanding. As such, I was really looking forward to "Penny Sparkle." Once I found out Van Rivers & The Subliminal Kid produced it - who also took production reigns on Fever Ray's superb debut - I couldn't wait. With that said, I'm happy to report that they transferred all the brilliant synth-tastic nuances of that album over to "Penny Sparkle." The combination of BR's finely honed songwriting with Van Rivers & The Subliminal Kid's detailed studio trickery is a college art student's dream.

Every song, from opener "Here Sometimes" to the goosebump-inducing "Spain" are rich with ethereal melodies, subtle guitar lines, layered percussion, and all manner of electronic magic. The anchor to every track however is singer Kazu Makino. Despite her noticeable accent, Makino's voice strikes an incredible balance between her powerful melodies and extremely delicate vocals. This is apparent on every song she sings on. The 2 tracks where she doesn't take lead, "Will There Be Stars" and "Black Guitar" (sung by guitarist Amedeo Pace) are still excellent - "Black Guitar" in particular, where the two alternate on the verse and chorus, is one of the best on the album: the melancholy mood sounds like some something Lennon or McCartney might've written on one of their darker days.

Similarly, the emotionally stunning "Love Or Prison", the album's centerpiece, leaves quite a lasting impression.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JUST GIVE IT SOME TIME - AMAZING October 7, 2010
By jilixi
Format:Audio CD
At first I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in this album, just because it's so different from their others and it took a bit of getting used to. But now I can honestly say that it is my favorite BR album.
Penny Sparkle is full of amazingly beautiful tracks with deep, sexy beats, and flowing, luscious vocals, and simply profound lyrics. I freaking love this album. I can listen to it every day. My favorite songs are Black Guitar, Penny Sparkle, Spain, My Plants are Dead, Will Their Be Stars, Oslo. The only track I don't really care for much is Everything Is Wrong... which happens to be my brother's favorite. So to each his own. This album is beautiful. I highly recommend.
I love you blonde redhead - can't wait for the next album!!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dreamy, atmospheric electronic swirls September 30, 2010
Format:Audio CD
The 8th album since 1995 from New York indie heroes. The persistent & jagged Sonic Youth
influence in their early releases has given way to a beautifully dreary & atmospheric, electronic
Cocteau Twins/Bjork-ian float. The songs all seem to meld together--indistinguishable from each
other--with a combination of soft, near-jazzy experimentalism that sometimes recalls early Japan,
couched in cautiously hypnotic swirls of post-shoegaze expansionism. It's truly gorgeous, but
ultimately boring, as the stunning production glosses over what feels like a lack of substance and
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blonde Redhead - Penny Sparkle September 14, 2010
Format:Audio CD
It seems that with age, Blonde Redhead have lost their edge. The band started out as a highly experimental art-rock trio, and while sometimes their tunes were a little too obtuse for their own good, there was no shortage of ideas on early albums. On Misery Is A Butterfly and 23, the band hit a sweet spot between art rock experimentation, shoegaze style, and poppy melodies, but with Penny Sparkle, all of that is gone. Pushing into the arena of soft electronic rock, the band have taken all of the bite out of 23 and left a sad and lonely shell of an album. While the melodies are pretty and all of the songs pleasant enough, there is very little on this album to compel listen after listen, the way that the first half of 23 would consistently draw the listener into another round after finishing the record's back half. Suitable as mood music for chilling out, there is little to engage with in a critical listening session. Even the record's cover indicates the relative banality of the music within. Adorned in a light pink font more suited to a high-end bar of soap, it serves as a warning to prospective listeners that this album is tame in the extreme. A couple of good songs exist on this record, primarily "My Plants Are Dead," "Everything is Wrong," and closer "Spain."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars WE are only Here Sometimes....
With all the less than deserving albums on Amazon that get a 5 star rating, it is pathetic that such a memorable release doesn't get one. Read more
Published 8 days ago by M. Cook
5.0 out of 5 stars What musical dreams are made of. Absolutely breathtaking!
So ahead of its time. Penny Sparkle will gently rock you to sleep, make you cry with a joyful sadness of memories forgotten, and all the while a listener falls in love with one of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hotpink Zelda Brainchild
5.0 out of 5 stars SO NICE!
great album, great band. And I was in a very good price. The delivery was on time and the disk, in perfect condition. So Nice!
Published 8 months ago by javier veraldi
5.0 out of 5 stars Blonde Redhead is still going strong
23 is the album that started my love for Blonde Redhead. I've gone through their older albums and have not been able to get into them. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Adam Howell
2.0 out of 5 stars Penny Does Not Sparkle
A long time Blonde Redhead fan, I was very unimpressed by this album. It was a total departure from the rawness of "La Mia Vita Violenta" and "Fake Can be Just as... Read more
Published 11 months ago by miranda freitas
4.0 out of 5 stars The Love is Gone, but Hope Remains
"Penny Sparkle" by Blonde Redhead is a delicate, departed album. Many of the songs deal with loss or a sense of longing. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Matthias Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars intense breathtaking astonishing inspirational
This is a really amazing album. Don't recall any other band who after 18 years are still progressing and taking the listener to new planets. Read more
Published 20 months ago by R. Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars highly listenable
To say that this album is highly listenable is both a compliment and an understatement: it doesn't begin to capture the allure of this under-rated band. Read more
Published on December 3, 2011 by S. Elliff
4.0 out of 5 stars I actually really dig it
Almost like a dreamy 80s soundtrack, I picked up Penny Sparkle at the the local record shop (Thanks Waterloo in Austin, TX!!) and did an impulse buy. Read more
Published on November 28, 2011 by Spencer Holbert
4.0 out of 5 stars Love it...
I was turned onto Blonde Redhead by a friend(Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons). I fell in love with there music. I really enjoyed this album. Read more
Published on June 25, 2011 by Shasta Hedgecock
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