Penny Sparkle

September 14, 2010 | Format: MP3

$9.49
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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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,450 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
Get excited for the newest recorded album to be released this year 2014.
Hotpink Zelda Brainchild
Despite her noticeable accent, Makino's voice strikes an incredible balance between her powerful melodies and extremely delicate vocals.
Jimmy Penola
To be fair, I should really give their older work a few more listens before writing those albums off.
Adam Howell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Stefan VINE VOICE on 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 By Jimmy Penola on October 30, 2010
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 By jilixi on October 7, 2010
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 By Charlie Quaker on 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
diversity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Travis Dickason on April 20, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I can understand why opinon on this album is divided. But after having five years to digest and let it become part of the bands overall catalog rather than being "the new album" I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's their best work. I was one of the disapointed when I first heard it. But over time something about this record slowly grabbed hold of me and hasn't let go since.
Looking back on it I don't think the slow,dreamy mood of the album should have been so jarring to me when I first gave it a listen. In a way I think this album has much in common with "Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons". On "Melody" the band turned down the guitars (mostly) and showed a softer, more intimate side to their sound. It also led to a string of albums where the band somehow managed to streach their sound in new directions while still managing to retain what is essential about themselves. I love the pre-Melody releases as well but looking back on it they all seem to be a variation of a theme, while everything after it has been a singular work of art.
What I love about "Penny" is it's beatiful, haunting simplicity. Yes, it is full of colorful keyboard and guitar work, but at it's core several of the songs are quite simple. Kazu's vocal melodies are exceptionally strong on this record, and I think several of the songs could pass the "acoustic campfire guitar test" that a great song will still work even if stripped to its bare essentials (the chords, melody, and lyrics).
Something about "Penny" makes me believe that, like "Melody", it will be the beginning of a new phase for the band. Then again, the new record could be a complete departure from "Penny".
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