Sonic Youth
Sister


5.0
classic

Review

by Chewbacca USER (32 Reviews)
June 17th, 2005 | 34 replies | 11,960 views


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist


5 of 6 thought this review was well written

It's hard not to romanticize about Sonic Youth's long, trippy career. You could easily think of them as the "godfathers of grunge," who went against the conventional song structure, but somehow, kept it there the whole time. Thurston Moore and Lee Ronaldo are the Keith Richards and Mick Taylor of indie, with their alternate-tuned guitars pushing out dissonant melodies, interlocking and twisting around each, crafting some of the most unique guitar work of their time. Their sound is easily identifiable, especially when you consider an album like Daydream Nation, which followed in the wake of the fairly 'small' Sister. Indeed, Sister was a precurser to the huge, anthemic sound of it's follower. Sister is like falling into a large thorn bush, with dozens of rabid bunnies tearing your flesh off simultaneously, but you could care less, because you've got a lollipop. Oh, that sweet, sugary lollipop.

Sister is a nihilistic, distorted, noisy record. There's absolutely no doubt about it. The guitars spike through the mix like a rusty knife, creating some cacophony of melodic noise. The overall tone of the album is extremely warm, due to the fact that (smart) people still used analog tape in 1987. Right, so you know it's nosiy. It's Sonic Youth, for God's sake. Mixed in with all this "damn noise!" are heavy doses of liquid, chorused, melody. Songs like "Schizophrenia" and "Beauty Lies in the Eye" are eerie, beautiful pieces of music. Both songs are enveloped in waves of melody and harmony, and show the ideal that 'noise' can be coupled with melody to form something magnificent. Other songs, like "Tuff Gnarl," the industrial-esque "Pacific Coast Highway," or the slow, droning "Cotton Crown" are schizophrenic in their approach. The songs teater back and forth, eventually falling off into a pit of noise, or melody. On "Tuff Gnarl" especially, Sonic Youth provides one of their most hair-raising songs, with melodic bass and guitar lines, covered over in a blanket of fuzz. "Master-Dik" provides a somewhat 'different' ending to the album. The song features Thurston 'rapping', with spiralling, chaotic noise. Kiss samples are repeated over and over, and add a sort of, cynical, feel, I guess you could say. Think The Smiths anti-ending "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others," done Sonic Youth-style. And a lot funnier.

So, like, gag me with a spoon! Sister is up there as one of the best Sonic Youth albums. The record itself feels very dark, and you can easily feel it brooding, constantly. I guess you could say that Sonic Youth let it all out on Daydream Nation, and that Sister was just the volcano's base stretching. All of the songs here are class, and I can't find anything wrong with them. They represent what Sonic Youth do best, that being artfully, and cleverly combining noise and the 'avant-garde' and somewhat-conventional song structures and melodies. "There's something in the air, that makes you go insane", Kim Gordon sings, and that's what Sister is, well.. kind of.

A Side Note: Sister is partly inspired by the life and works of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick (the "sister" of the title was Dick's fraternal twin, who died shortly after her birth, and whose memory haunted Dick his entire life).

If You're Feeling Sinister...:
"Schizophrenia"
"Tuff Gnarl"
"Pacific Coast Higway"
"Cotton Crown"
"Master-Dik"



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Sonic Youth's fifth album Sister. Better than Daydream Nation? Maybe. An undoubted classic in noise ...

something vague (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
pixiesfanyo
June 17th 2005



1222 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Schizophrenia is an amazing song.

This album is good, but not great.

masada
June 17th 2005



2733 Comments


"Schizophrenia" and "Tuff Gnarl" are definately the best.

looozer
June 18th 2005



24 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I belive this is SY's best. I guess I should have given it a 5, but oh well. It takes a variety of great songs, ideas, themes, and lyrics and throws them into a concoction that only asks 40 minutes of the listener's time. From the cute, indie poppish guitar playing and singing of "Tuff Gnarl" to the dark, psychotic gringing of "Pacific Coast Highway" and the rocking of "Hot Wire My Heart" as well as everything inbetwee, this album is a very rewarding listen... and better than Daydream Nation.

Shadowed Reflection
June 22nd 2005



274 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I enjoyed Stereo Sancity but i didn't like Pipeline too much. I agree that tuff gnarl is the best song.

masada
August 5th 2005



2733 Comments


*Bumped like Iai's ego after another review*This Message Edited On 08.05.05

Iai
Emeritus
August 5th 2005



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oi! :mad:

masada
August 5th 2005



2733 Comments


Zing.

masada
August 10th 2005



2733 Comments


Bump.

Captain_HumpYourFace
August 10th 2005



119 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Sister is like falling into a large thorn bush, with dozens of rabid bunnies tearing your flesh off simultaneously, but you could care less, because you've got a lollipop. Oh, that sweet, sugary lollipop."

That is the single greatest description I have ever read in a review... ever.

I like this album a lot but as you said it just wasn't quite as good as Daydream Nation, of course nitpicking about something like that is like complaining that you only won $20 million in the lottery and not $25. A brilliant album that should be heard by everyone.

Zebra
Moderator
September 20th 2005



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Schizophrenia" is a great Sonic youth song, but this album isn't my favorite Sonic youth cd. Good review!

pulseczar
October 21st 2005



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thurston's voice sounds so haunting in Schizophrenia. I love how unpredictable Sonic Youth are from album to album.

masada
October 21st 2005



2733 Comments


Sonic Youth sucks.

Killtacular
October 22nd 2005



1314 Comments


You're an angry young man. You need drugs.

bubbamickmac
December 4th 2005



12 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this is a great album i have to say. schizophrenia is so hard to play on guitar, no wonder sonic youth does it better

masada
December 4th 2005



2733 Comments


[quote=bubbamickmac]schizophrenia is so hard to play on guitar, no wonder sonic youth does it better[/quote] I can play the whole song, so I really don't know what you're talking about when you call it "hard".

bubbamickmac
December 4th 2005



12 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i know, but its not really hard; sure i got the tuning rite, but just getting it rite down wit playin the song in one shot. im always playin with my vibrato durin this song and it lways detunes when i have the alternate tunings DDDDAA or FsharpFsharpGGAA

masada
December 4th 2005



2733 Comments


Yeah, don't use the bar at all. That drop at the ending of the song is actually the bass, but all the tabs seem to say that it's Lee using his whammy bar.

Jawaharal
December 4th 2005



1832 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I want this.

masada
December 5th 2005



2733 Comments


Yes you do.

And you will love it.



francesfarmer
December 5th 2005



1477 Comments


Pacific Coast Highway = Cool



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