Blonde Redhead's noisy, dissonant guitars, alternate tunings, and quiet, stilted lyrics have often been compared to early Sonic Youth. After randomly meeting at an Italian restaurant in New York, Japanese art students Kazu Makino and Maki Takahashi and Italian twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace formed the band in 1993. The name was taken from a song by the '80s no wave band DNA. With Makino and Amedeo on guitars and vocals, Simone on drums, and Takahashi on bass, the band's chaotic, artistic rock caught the attention of Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, who produced and released the band's debut album, Blonde Redhead, on his Smells Like Records label. Shortly after the album's release, Takahashi left the band. The remaining members continued as a trio, releasing a second album, La Mia Vita Violenta, on Shelley's label in 1995.
For their 1997 release Fake Can Be Just as Good, recorded for Touch & Go, the trio was joined by guest bass player Vern Rumsey from Unwound. By 1998, the band eliminated bass and scaled back to guitars, drums, and vocals for In an Expression of the Inexpressible. Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons and the Melodie Citronique EP followed two years later. The band's first for 4AD, Misery Is a Butterfly, was released in spring 2004. For 2007's 23, the group opted for a mix of dream pop and delicate electronic textures. Three years later, Blonde Redhead returned with Penny Sparkle, a more stripped-down, even more electronic-leaning set of songs the band recorded in New York and Stockholm with Alan Moulder and Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid.