For a start there's the sheer originality of the sound; instantly recognisable from the very first second. These guitars sound like America; lyrical, tuneful, gnarled and ugly, subway trains and wrecked cars. Wide open spaces.
On this album the twist is that the mood is almost a mellow one. There's plenty of extreme sonic attack of course, "Karen Revisited" features an extraordinary moment which sounds like a jet engine colliding with half a dozen fax machines. But the opening track "The Empty Page" sets the tone: reflective, melodic, mature. Throughout, the feedback and noise seem integrated, and oddly beautiful. And for once, both the singing and the lyrics seem exactly right. There's variety enough: as well as long workouts like "Rain On Tin", there's the short sharp punk rock from another galaxy of "Plastic Sun". Newest member Jim O'Rourke, on bass guitar,seems to have given them a new lease of life: his clean production is another plus.
On previous records Sonic Youth were sometimes self indulgent and often patchy. But there's no trace of that here. The whole thing lasts only 47 minutes, a blessed relief in these days of over long, overdone product. If you've never heard them before this is a great place to start. It's one of their best, and an object lesson to any pretender. Quietly they have reasserted their place as not just the Kings and Queen of Underground rock, but as purveyors of one of the most distinctive sounds in music. When the "albums of the year" lists come round, this one will be on them. --Nick Reynolds
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Standout tracks for me are Lee's excellent 'Karen Revisited', which touches on psychedelia and has an excellent breakdown at the end, managing to sound both disturbing and beautiful at the same time. Also a standout is the Kim-song, 'Sympathy For The Strawberry', which shows us a different style of her music (harking back to maybe Evol's 'Shadow of a Doubt'). This contrasts nicely with her more punky 'Plastic Sun' earlier on the album. 'Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style' penned by Thurston is also excellent, along with the all of the tracks really.
All in all I think this is one of their most coherent albums and one I would recommend to both Youth and non-Youth fans alike.
"The Empty Page" is another classic Thurston Moore album opener, and it just gets better from there. "Karen Revisited" is a particular highlight, best Lee Ranaldo since "Rain King"? Jim O'Rourke appears to have added an extra dimension with production and extra guitars. Check out the guitars on "Plastic Sun", pure class. Roll on the Summer tour..
It has been said that SY are no longer relevant, that their risks are no longer risks. They only play for their own sonic pleasure. Maybe thats true, but just listen to Murry Street and then stick on Is This It and ask yourself which is more relevant. Which will leave you drained and bored, which will want you asking for more, more, more????!!!!! Sonic Youth are as important as any band around at the moment, they have been for the past two decades. Forget The Strokes, Sonic Youth are THE quintessential New York band. They'll still be making great music when The Strokes, BRMC, Hives, etc, etc are long gone.
Go and get Murry Street now!!!
Song by song:
1. Empty Page: melodious in a 'Sister' style, but including 15 years experience and a beat that'll have you tapping your feet.
2. Disconnection Notice: melodious again, with great mesa-stabs of echo guitar and a glorious guitar-as-modem feedback outro. Wouldn't be out of place on 'A Thousand Leaves.'
3. Rain On Tin: starts weak, three Thurston vocals in a row is a little too much. Get past the vocals and you're rewarded with a lovely sonic workout akin to the quieter parts of 'The Diamond Sea.'
4. Karen Revisited: As ever, Lee provides a consistant level of quality. An awkward start leads into a rocker that could have appeared on 'Daydream Nation' and then descends into pure noise in a manner not dissimilar to Lee's song 'Mote' from 'Goo.'
5.Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style: The stand-out track track on the album, this rocks, screams, experiments and bewitches all at once. Twin horns play Coltrane-style sheets of sound in tandem with the Youth's furious guitar assault. Stunning.
6. Plastic Sun: Kim Gordon's tracks are either (a) amazing or (b) terrible. This is pretty bad, but nowhere near as bad as 'Lightnin'" from the last album. No experimenting, and bad lyrics, this may have been good if sung by Kurt Cobain 10 years ago, but has no place in the SY canon beyond being a B-side.
7. Sympathy For The Strawberry: This sounds unfinished, a sonic jam that would have been on one of the SYR 'snapshot' EP's and then a year later appearing as a finished song on an album.... Read more ›
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