Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Album Review: Sonic Youth – Murray Street

This 2002 Sonic Youth album was a return to form as far as I was concerned. It’s very definitely a more mature Sonic Youth, perhaps due to the presence of Jim O’Rourke, who had joined the band for this album.

There are only seven songs on this album but the first 3 (all sung by Thurston Moore) are damn near perfect. Empty Page is probably the poppiest one here, which starts with a fairly unadorned clean-sounding guitar in the verses before leading into a slightly heavier chorus. The whole thing is quite concise and is over in just over four minutes. Although Sonic Youth were no slouches when it came to guitars before, they really excel themselves here. O’Rourke’s presence on bass frees up Kim Gordon to join Moore and Lee Ranaldo on guitar. Disconnection Notice is a slower, more complex track which unfolds slowly with a taut guitar line leading the track and the rest of the band joining in, driving the track on to a career high (and there are many for this band). What makes this track particularly enjoyable is that they threaten noise and feedback without delivering, which makes the track tense but thrilling.

Rain On Tin is like Television’s Marquee Moon updated for the 21st century. Guitars in the midsection of this song reach Verlaine-esque heights from about 02.40 on before returning to the structure of this song. The track is almost 8 minutes long but it doesn’t feel like it, thanks the superb musicianship displayed.

After this the album takes a bit of a dip. Karen Revisited, is a Ranaldo-sung track, which starts out fine, till we get to a tedious noise section in the middle, which is dragged out for the remainder of the 11 minute long track. Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style is a definite improvement, a bit more rockist with it’s Lou Reed references, before climaxing in a noise-fest at the end.

Kim Gordon gets to sing Plastic Sun, which is a typical Gordon shouty song, but she also gets to sing Sympathy for the Strawberry, a longer drawn out song, in a similar vein to last year’s Massage The History off The Eternal. For the first 3 songs alone, it’s worth checking out.