Sonic Youth
A Thousand Leaves


4.0
excellent

Review

by altron2095 USER (7 Reviews)
March 5th, 2007 | 13 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After the dust cleared from the rock era, Sonic Youth got back to being a great experimental band. A Thousand Leaves is a fruitful work in a great period for them, though some of the tracks would probably be better with fewer feminist rants or breathy whi

This album comes at a special time in the career of our beloved Yoof. Here, they have had time. Time as noise rockers, alternative trailblazers, and even time as charting artists. They've had quite a time by now. Now they have their own studio to explore their sound in and a rock era fading past. Here they've taken up their mantle as fiercely independent and exploratory artists once more.

A Thousand Leaves sounds like little else in the Sonic catalog due to their willingness to leave rock territory behind and carve out a new niche in their own land of open tunings and three guitar luster.

It begins with crunching, crackling feedback. Not like the Sonic Youth of old. Here, there seems to be more body to the noise. It doesn't accentuate the notes; it is the whole of the music. Kim's voice wanders in. It really doesn't matter that she's referencing Lewis Carroll or talking about sexism. Her voice is actually warm, slightly manipulated, but reassuring in a way it never was before. Contre le Sexisme is a declaration of Kim's presence on the album and the femininity that pervades it.

Sunday follows. While a great single, it doesn't rock out like earlier Sonics. It seems more laconic, more willful, and revels in noise as beauty, with not a hint of pop convention adorning it. The guitars here crunch and growl with abandon, then plunge into a howl and scream solo that fans have never heard before. Here there is texture, atmosphere, even emotion that had been so absent during the rock era of the nineties. This is beautiful.

What's that sound squeezing your head out of shape? It's the intro to "Female Mechanic Now On Duty". Angry, politicized, and slightly ridiculous, it nevertheless works. The guitar interplay is bliss, and the second half's percussion is just sublime. Liquid guitar may not save the lyrics or vocals, but really, that's not at all out of place for Kim. And Steve Shelley's percussion makes up for it, I swear.

"Hoarfrost" is a highlight here, one of the best Lee songs. Cold, wintry guitar plucking leads you into a snow-covered forest, and while the spiders build their silver webs, you just gaze around at all the beauty that threatens to swallow you.

Lee contributes another highlight, 'Karen Koltrane', precursor to Murray Street's 'Karenology'. Though nearly grating in its aggressive dissonance, the song is saved from being a particularly abrasive curiosity by an utterly incredible instrumental. The multi-part, fluid and intricate guitar interplay makes this a latter-day classic.

Aside from these highlights, some of the songs don't quite perform as well. Thurston's vocals in Wildflower Soul are too fragile, and Kim gets a bit obnoxious and overly silly from time to time. However, overall, the album is consistently engaging and pleasing. This album finds beauty in noise like early Sonic Youth, only here tempered by maturity and wisdom. Though Kim's songs get to be a little too much, the thematic unity of the album and wonderful guitar sounds that these rockers have found again are worth a few bad moments.



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user ratings (214)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
TheRogueCheeseWedge (4)
The Youth age gracefully will an album full of crystalline guitar lines and laid-back improvisations...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Eliminator
March 5th 2007


2067 Comments


Here, there seems to be more body to the noise. It doesn't accentuate the notes; it is the whole of the music.
lol

While a great single, it doesn't rock out like earlier Sonics. It seems more laconic, more willful, and revels in noise as beauty, with not a hint of pop convention adorning it.
lol

Lee contributes another highlight, 'Karen Koltrane', precursor to Murray Street's 'Karenology'.


*Karen Revisited

Thurston's vocals in Wildflower Soul are too fragile


Wrong.







Two-Headed Boy
March 5th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is pretty under-rated in my opinion.

Neoteric
March 5th 2007


3243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

*Karen Revisited
Lee always calls Karen Revisited, "Karenology" and a lot of fans call it that too. But I guess for a review it should have it's proper title.

This is exactly the same as what I said in your Isn't Anything review. Don't go through every single track (or in this case the "highlights") You only need an overall view of the album. Describe what you like and dislike about the record, describe a few tracks etc.


AlienEater
March 5th 2007


716 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't think this is a great album

Ephex
March 14th 2007


730 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For some reason I actually enjoy French Tickler and The Ineffable Me.

TurboMitch
June 14th 2009


4 Comments


"Lee contributes another highlight, 'Karen Koltrane', precursor to Murray Street's 'Karenology'.


*Karen Revisited"

The name of the song is actually Karenology, Karen Revisited does appear on the album but that's it. From then it has always been referred to as Karenology. Anyone knows why?

Meatplow
May 4th 2010


5524 Comments


I find this pretty dull

porch
September 5th 2010


8460 Comments


it has its ups and downs

gaslightanthem
September 5th 2010


5209 Comments


oh hey a thread about the best band evrr

exitsense
December 17th 2010


402 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

so underrated
HE'S JUST A KITTEN

Digging: Iydes - Villings

Rsetness9
August 6th 2013


681 Comments


The first song actually scares me. Just don't listen to it in the dark and imagine Kim as some sort of a demon.

undertakerpt
January 9th 2014


1379 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sunday is such a tune

Good idea - Sonic the hedgehog

Bad idea - Sonic the ham sandwich

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
August 15th 2014


13452 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wildflower soul omg



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