Warmth, Blondes' latest album, contains some of their hardest work yet. Swisher already seemed big, but by boosting the drums and reducing the textures by a hair, Warmth has considerably more horsepower. "MRO," for example, thickens in mass like a thundercloud, with techno kicks that speed into the eye of the storm. The brooding "Quality Of Life" pounds among hissy percussion and blasts of distortion. On "All You," anxiety overtakes—the low-end throbs menacingly, the synths erupt in paranoid loops. Blondes have never sounded so severe.
But Warmth is not all dark and twisted. Some of its finest ideas are built on what we've heard from Blondes all along—dense, gorgeous layers of texture. "KDM" soars high but stays soft, with glitchy sequences cradled in poignant chords. "Clipse," a pulse of polyrhythmic synth and bell tones, ushers in cascading waves of calm. The rippling voices on "Cleo" recall earlier Blondes tracks like "Wine." But the track is stripped down to a just few dreamy elements, its voices left to shimmer against the mist.
The music on Warmth is among the duo's most powerful, and several tracks from the LP could come alive in the right kind of DJ set. But, given the way the rhythms and textures unfurl, it's still more exciting to imagine these pieces in the context of Blondes' improvisatory live shows. The music on Warmth will lift such occasions to new heights.