Brooklyn-based duo Blondes, made up of Zach Steinman and Sam Haar, released their debut self-titled LP February 7. Their new work brings tense dream themes to clubby house genres, sounding something like a haunted Ibiza discoteque in the ‘90s.
The songs start off with a minimal disco melody and layers are slowly added. The songs take two minutes to grow into themselves. Starting off with a minimal disco beat, the songs build up to something, and when it happens, it happens seamlessly. Transitions within the song smoothly phase in.
Ghostly chanting emerges out of the rippling synths and disappear on the opener “Lover.” Most of the compositions have an on-the-fly, live quality. Perhaps in line with its ghostly tones, Blondes is fairly transparent about the construction of its songs. However, listeners will only notice it at the beginning or the end of tracks, as the duo builds up, or breaks down, the song.
Because the formal aspects seem so transparent, the album doesn’t know if it belongs at a club or in a pair of headphones. Transitions between tracks aren’t effortless. At the start of every track, Blondes starts again with a new set of disco melodies. The effect is tiresome.
Yet, the album emphasizes good dance music over experimental synth. Their first priority is a sexy beat; trippy synth explorations come second. Selfishness always comes first throughout the album, especially in tracks like “Pleasure” and “Wine.”
In slower pieces, the experimentalism shines. Closing track “Amber”on the first disc is more subdued, sounding more like a trip through space in a neon jet fighter than a cool-down track in a DJ set.
The band divides its tracks into dualities: “Lover”/“Hater,” “Business”/“Pleasure,” and so on. Another duality exists in the album between composition and remix. Disc one of Blondes is the duo’s original work, and disc two is the remixes.
Andy Stott’s remix stands out on the album, bringing a darker concrete jungle sensibility to the shiny, dreamy plastic of the first disc.
The whole package ends with a remix by Rene Hell, who transforms a space-disco cool-down into an Eno-style ambient lullaby. Angelic drones of the organs, supported by quiet and subdued strings, tucks the album and its listener in for bed.