Dirty is one of Sonic Youth's more accessible records and as such it's an ideal starting point for new listeners looking to get into this hard-rocking band.
The songs on Dirty are short, angry, lean, tight and muscular. They are shot through with an urgent, breathless energy. The whole album has a punchy, chunky, straightforward sound and a clean Butch Vig production that admittedly sets it closer to Lollapalooza-era alternative rock than to previous Sonic Youth albums like EVOL, Sister or Daydream Nation. My only slight reservation is that in straying so close to Nirvana's grunge/punk territory, they don't sound as instantly distinctive as they do on, say, Sister, so it's not necessarily the most representative album of what Sonic Youth are about.
By the Youth's avant-garde art-rock standards these songs are relatively catchy, poppy and radio-friendly, but please don't let snobbery get in the way of a great rock album. There is so much to enjoy here, and there's still plenty of hard-rocking white noise for feedback fanatics to savour. Highlights include Kim Gordon's seductive, menacing Shoot; the brutal, hard-as-nails punk tantrums Swimsuit Issue and Drunken Butterfly; and the classic singles 100% and Sugar Kane.