Alternative music reviews

July 10, 2009

The Eternal by Sonic Youth

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The Eternal by Sonic YouthDid you spot what I was really saying in my review of Bill Callaghan’s album? I must promise to be straightforward and say it like it is – there are two brilliant songs and the rest is pretty disposable. Sometimes I like to lose the negative spin and so don’t write it. So if I was to do a review of, say, the latest Sonic Youth album then I wouldn’t mention that they are merely reliving old glories and say instead that they still make a nice noise.

Well, that might have been what I would have wanted to say about recent albums such as “Sonic Nurse” but the latest one, “The Eternal”, is just brilliant. Tracks such as What We Know and Sacred Trickster are as good as anything Sonic Youth have done since “Daydream Nation”. I would rate Massage The History alongside their best work ever. Their control of the music is effortless, drawing on elements that they have developed over the past 20+ years. It is fun to listen to the songs and figure out exactly which album a track could fit on. Mostly I placed things around the Goo period but Poison Arrow is more suited to whichever Lou Reed album it could have been on.

Sonic Youth have been doing this Rock and Feedback thing for so long that their kids probably say every year, “Mum/Dad, I appreciate you playing Happy Birthday but do you always have to add the 20 minutes of feedback?” (I imagine they all live in a big house together, by the way.) But even in their advanced years, they are still capable of surprises. The short clip I’ve chosen is from the rather cool Malibu Gas Station and the reason I like it is that it is a melody in the verse that strikes me as unusual for Sonic Youth. It’s a tiny detail but they are still moving forward with their music.

Malibu Gas Station by Sonic Youth

Malibu Gas Station by Sonic Youth (Clip)