Yet another SY album is out, and no noubt once again we'll hear the refrain 'back on top form' or 'best album since Daydream Nation' which seem to come with almost everything they put out.
Cutting to the chase, this is nothing new from Sonic Youth -- it's yet another refinement of the formula they had perfected by 1995's Washing Machine LP. It doesn't scale the heights of 97's 1000 Leaves either, but feels like a continuation of Murray Street. Murray Street was flawed, containing only three (or four, depending on your point of view) outstanding tracks from seven. In the weeks I've been listening to Nurse, there's only on track I skip -- '...Arthur Doyle Hand Cream.'
The album is a pastoral as 1000 Leaves was, yet has that more electric tinge than was present on Murray Street. The Youth seem to be mellowing with age (even Peace Attack, the 'anti-Bush' song, is mellow in sound, if not sentiment).
Rejoicing from long-time Youth fans will be heard when the standout track (I Love You Golden Blue) hits their ears -- it plays like a warmer version of the quiet parts of The Diamond Sea. It also has Kim Gordon's first soft vocal that isn't just mumbling in a long time -- she sounds nothing like on Lightnin' or Contre de le Sexisme, and in fact sounds more like the breathy vocals she mastered on Dirty's JC and most of her tracks on Experimental Jet Set. She sounds at once fragile and sexy, and the song sends a shiver up the spine every time it is played. I would recommend the album on the back of this track alone.
For those panicking that the noise levels have dropped, the first track on the LP, pattern recognition, recalls the sound of Confusion is Sex in some guitar lines, while the 'modem guitar' effect from Murray Street's Disconnection Notice can be heard buried deep in the mix at several points.
While this album is unlikely to convert listeners already bewitched by SY's 23 year journey into sound, it is a great addition to their already considerable works.