Sonic Youth

Rather Ripped | Geffen
By NICK SYLVESTER  |  June 6, 2006
3.5 3.5 Stars

DAYDREAM NOTIONS: There’s less teenage riot and more pinpoint dissonance on Sonic Youth’s best since ’95’s Washing Machine.
We’re allowed to like albums about getting old but never being old, so I don’t know why this one works — SY’s most openly “mature” disc, possibly their best since ’95’s Washing Machine, maybe even the almighty Daydream Nation. The clean, nimble strumming that opens “Reena” and Kim Gordon’s first belt (“You keep me coming home again”) and the way she holds the “gain” of “again” instead of letting the note resolve really couldn’t serve as a better proem: less teenage riot, more pinpoint dissonance; fewer facefucking abstractions, more hand-in-hand face-to-face. Two songs later, Thurston Moore asks, “Do you believe in a second chance?” Hell if I know what adult-oriented themes he’s hitting on — this is a ballad, by the way — but for the first time maybe ever, I wish I did. What’s funny is that Moore goes the opposite direction, too. “I tore your heart out from your chest/Replaced it with a grenade blast,” he sings in “Incinerate,” whose billowing guitars would pass for Dinosaur Jr.’s before SY’s. I’d call it bad high-school poetry if it weren’t so perfectly bad — as if SY were artifying high-school poetry, turning it into its own genre, something I’ve thought all along. No wonder Geffen reissued their first albums this year.

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Sonic Youth, "Reena" (Windows Media Player)

Sonic Youth, "Incinerate" (Windows Media Player)

Sonic Youth, "Do You Believe in the Rapture?" (Windows Media Player)

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