Weird and whimsical, but surprisingly accessible for an Legendary Pink Dots album, Plutonium Blonde is an interesting artefact from the realms of experimental pop. Hot on the heels of their 2006 25th-anniversary album, Your Children Placate You from Shallow Graves, this is the latest chapter in the band’s dark and sinister legacy. Edward Ka-Spel and friends have crafted a marvellously unique record here. The fun starts with hypnotic “Torchsong,” a brooding slab of gothic experimental “pop.” It is a strange and unsettling opener that deserves to be played at high volume. But it is merely an appetizer for the nine minute epic that follows; “Rainbows Too?” is an atmospheric synth-pop song reminiscent of Avalon-era Roxy Music and early Japan – but unquestionably more haunting. It retains LPD’s trademark touch of evil, but matches it with a distinct melodic sensibility.
On the less expected end of things, Plutonium Blonde also features a couple of psychedelic folk nuggets in “A World with No Mirrors” and “Faded Photograph.” The former is a flute-laced, almost bucolic pop gem straight out of a sixties sit-in, while the latter is more hauntingly atmospheric but still remarkably melodic. Meanwhile, eerie “An Arm and A Leg,” with its ominous narrator, sounds like something off one of Chris Morris’ Blue Jam sessions, and “Ocean’s Blue” is a marvellously Satanic mood-setter from deep below the Earth’s surface.
Plutonium Blonde isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it is an excellent starting point for those curious about LPD’s recent outings. Atmospheric and suggestively evil, this music will be best enjoyed in a dark, empty mansion, blaring through marble hallways and carpeted ballrooms. Failing that, a nice set of headphones and perhaps a hallucinogen will do.