Blonde Redhead have evolved from a noisy outfit into one of beauty. This reached its pinnacle with the stunning and strong 23 (QRO review), while follow-up Penny Sparkle (QRO review) saw the band fall fully on the side of indie-beauty. Barragán is certainly beautiful, but even more than Penny, it can lack a lot of substance behind the clouds.
The titular woodwind instrumental open certainly does indicate what is to follow on Barragán, ethereal and largely quiet. This all can be touching, such as on the expanding into the air “Dripping”, but the record is so misty as to be unable to hold onto. There are numerous moments where it gets so quiet that one thinks the album is over, only for another track to begin or even for the song itself to turn the volume up to more audible levels. Only the penultimate “Penultimo” has the ‘old BR chill’ from earlier releases.
Penny Sparkle clearly defined the route that Blonde Redhead wanted to take, one of ethereal beauty, and Barragán takes that to new levels, for better or worse.