Blonde Readhead - Masculin Feminin 4LP Box Set

(Numero Group, 2016)

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"Masculin Féminin compiles Blonde Redhead’s Smells Like catalogue—1994’s self-titled debut and 1995’s La Mia Vita Violenta—along with associated singles, outtakes, and radio sessions. And the box set arrives via Numero Group, a reissue label best known for its archival digs through regional ’70s soul scenes from Ohio to Belize. But these days, the ’90s New York indie rock era feels equally remote. The Big Apple sounds of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s have been thoroughly canonized in books, documentaries, fictional biopics, and ill-fated TV shows. But while contemporary music—from indie rock to R&B—is now awash in ’90s nostalgia, the trend has mostly passed over the vibrant activity happening in New York at the time.

Taken as a whole, Masculin Féminin is a scrapbook made of records that already felt like scrapbooks, but collectively they form a portrait of a band more multi-dimensional than their Sonic Youth Jr. rep suggested. Listening now, the differences between the two bands seem as pronounced as the similarities. Compared to Sonic Youth’s tightly coiled art-punk epics, early Blonde Redhead were far more scrappy and impulsive, and they were more willing to exploit the frisson between their male and female leads (compared to Thurston and Kim’s often segregated vocal turns). And when you consider the kind of music Sonic Youth were making at the time and thereafter, it’s not a stretch to suggest the influence was mutual." - Stuart Berman for Pitchfork