Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Album Review - Sonic Youth

Artist – Sonic Youth
Album – Rather Ripped

Sonic Youth has always been one of the most important bands in the world of music. They have managed to be popular just by name alone, as everybody knows their name but most can’t name a single song or album by them. The reason for this is twofold; one part is that they are very rarely, if ever played on the radio. The other half of that reason is that their music is so dynamic and unstructured, that casual music fans just can’t get into their music. This is a sad fact, as they have made some great music over their twenty year career. Their new album Rather Ripped however, may be easier to bite into.

Sonic Youth has always been a “fuzz” band. A lot of distortion and sound effects are blended in with their buzzing guitars, and the song structures vary widely, sometimes forming more noise than music. With Rather Ripped the fuzz has been filtered and turned down in exchange for riffs reminiscent of The Strokes. It is easier on the ear, and has a bit more of a pop flavor to it, especially with the first two tracks “Reena” and “Incinerate”. Lyrically, they are the same as they have always been, with subdued messages and catchy, if vague, choruses.

As usual, the tracks peak when Kim Gordon takes over the vocals. She still sounds like she first did on Sonic Youth and Confusion Is Sex. Tunes like “What A Waste” and “The Neutral” show her calm and collected vocal style, while her occasional scream seems to be absent from the record. Rather Ripped is a smooth disk with no surprises or shocks, which gives it a cloudy-day-drive kind of a feel. It may not measure up to Goo or Daydream Nation, but nothing ever will. After twenty years, if this is what their dishing out as records now, I’ll take it in a heartbeat. It’s not that different from their older stuff, just a little more mature.

7 out of 10

If you like this record, try:

Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
Fugazi – 13 Songs

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