To dismiss Sonic Youth as irrelevant is musically oblivious. These noise rockers practically created the genre of alternative in the eighties. Over the past ten years the band has rewarded fans with new material, despite their age; Sonic Youth never grows old. They've existed in several different incarnations, very DIY at first, sometimes label driven, moving to major label Geffen earlier in the decade. Finally in 2007, their frustrations led them to reputable record purveyor Matador, and their newfound harmonious relationship has proven prolific. Here they turn the same tricks with their old regime of noise-y,fuzzy guitars and odd, distraught chords, and for old fans, the formula will certainly click. Experimental guitars and weird noises abound as Youth supports their legacy of redefining what rock guitar can do.
I've always felt Youth strongest on their more melodic layering, like homage to beatnik Gregory Corso "Leaky Lifeboat," where noise takes a backseat to interesting spatial harmony and chord progressions that sound lost in a forest, complete with harmonic riffs. I find these tracks click more than one-off shock lyric driven angry songs like the screaming, off-kilter "Anti-Orgasm." Luckily there is plenty of the dreamy eyed fuzz of Youth's younger musings, like "Antenna" and "Lifeboat," whose washed out guitar parts sift into a daze of rumbling drums.
The risk with noise rock has always been stumbling a confusing line between post-acid rock and post-punk, like "Calming The Snake." Kim's song-speak seems out of place when compared to the rest of the record, the pulsating "Malibu Gas Station" being a better representation of Kim fronting Youth's comprehensive sound of the past twenty-five years. But noise rock is as much about confusion as it is being just plain weird, not to mention eliciting the kind of slow head nod, glazed over look that seems to permeate throughout The Eternal. You could always hear how nineties rock exploded out of Youth's work in the eighties. And some of it is still in the mix in their work today.
All of this is nothing new. Aside from highlighting some favorite tracks ("Antenna" and "What We Know" to name a few), there is nothing to say but this is just another Sonic Youth record. Keep in mind, this is different than saying it's just another record in general; Youth knows their craft quite well. A career of this longevity is nothing to scoff at, especially given the influence of the band on today's indie music. And the rumors that making music keeps you young? I'm going to agree. - joe puglisi