Sonic Youth are back, sharing songwriting duties out as usual, playing almost exclusively in 4/4 time as usual, alternately tuned as usual, using the same 2 chord verses as usual, doing it their way as usual... and doing it really well.
There aren't really any new ideas here, but all the ideas are really good. Don't think of this as more of the same, think of it as the point that all the previous Sonic Youth albums were leading up to. It isn't groundbreaking, but that's because they've already done all the groundbreaking, they've learned the lessons, now they're just giving us the culmination of all that hard work. And that culmination is 12 new songs, forged out of that Sonic Youth formula, but every second of it is purposeful, every second dripping in sonic pleasure. There are no 10 minute white noise interludes here. Every part of every song is resonant, every guitar chord, every harmony, every note, every feedback squeal is sublime. And every time I listen to it, it sounds different, sounds like I'm hearing it for the first time, makes me think, "I don't recognise this song..."
This is the sound of a truly professional band. It's a masterclass. Effortless, precise, imaginative. Walkin' Blue is definitely the best track on here - instantly one of the best Sonic Youth songs ever - but every single one of the rest are very close behind.
I don't know now, whether to give it 4 or 5 stars. I don't give 5 very often, and I was thinking about giving it 4, but I feel bad since two people have given it 5 already. Also, what really constitutes a 5 star album? A simple definition would be one on which you like all the songs - which I do. I like them quite a lot. It's just hard to quantify your fondness for a product I've only had for a couple of weeks - especially when you consider that I've had the other Sonic Youth albums for years. Is it too soon to decide I like it that much? Am I being too cautious? Can I put it on an equal footing with Goo and Washing Machine? Eh, why not. 5 it is.