Monday, April 26, 2010

Album Review: Sonic Youth – Washing Machine

The great thing with Sonic Youth is they have so many albums at this stage, all of which are of a reasonably good quality so there’s always going to be the overlooked album which rewards a bit of delving into. In this case I’m taking Washing Machine as said album. After a brief flirtation with the mainstream with albums Goo and Dirty, they followed up with the poorly received Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star. This album is denser than the 3 aforementioned albums, with more layers to decipher.

The album opens with blistering opener becuz. It’s sung by Kim Gordon, but her more dissonant tendencies are kept in check here. It’s a good driving rock song with a fair degree of squalling guitar noise in the bridge. Later in the song there is a great melodic outttro. Junkie’s Promise follows, a sort of tough number sung by Thurston Moore. The album becomes calmer with Lee Ranaldo’s Saucer-Like which features great guitar work before a dischordant ending.

After the noisy title track, things get calmer still with Thurston’s unwind. The odd nursery rhyme sounding Little Trouble Girl follows, featuring not only Kim Gordon but also Kim Deal (Pixies). The melody of this is rather child-like, and something which I can’t explain about the tone of Deal’s vocals sounds very 90s.

After some noisy, more difficult tracks the album finishes with the 19 minute long opus that is The Diamond Sea. It starts off as a fairly conventional Thurston rock song, with a good melody and nice guitar parts, before the guitars take over and transform the song into a kind of noise piece. It’s kind of in the vein of the Velvet Underground’s Sister Ray, except with a sweeter melody and less drug references.
Washing Machine is a lot less immediate than Sonic Youth's early 90s album. It's dense and can be hard work to listen to, but it's an important step on the journey to the artist they have become.