Zmev and looozer team up to present a review of...
Sonic Youth " Goo
Released June 26, 1990 on DGC
Zach and I are going to try an experiment. Like Prindle and one of his co-workers, we are going to attempt a joint review of some albums. Seeing as we both own Goo
, why not offer two perspectives on it? My comments will be listed in the normal font, and Zach"s will be pasted as a sort of rebuttal (he will have read my remarks by the time I post his) in black font.
would be the point in Sonic Youth"s career where most bands would severely compromise their style in order to gross more record sales. After the legendary Daydream Nation
and the less renowned Sister
, Sonic Youth had proven themselves to be masterful creators of beautiful and original melodies. However, Sonic Youth lost their Sonic Youthfulness (that"s becoming a word now" if W can do it, I can too) in creating this album. Most of the tracks have a somewhat generic feel to them. At this point, Sonic Youth had exhausted one of their signature sounds, and was in desperate need of a new musical identity. While this wouldn"t be fully played out until Dirty
, Sonic Youth was riding a wave of popularity that led to what was a rather conservative, unchanging sound for them. Goo
combines some of the best elements of Sonic Youth with some of their least creative songwriting to form what amounts to be just another good album, but nothing special.
Eben"s take: This is an excellent opening track. It starts out with an almost unnoticeable background noise, then evolves into a quasi-melodic and strangely beautiful octave progression. Unfortunately, the song does not continue on as wonderful a path as the intro lays out. The song definitely rocks, but it is because it rocks that it marks a departure of what Sonic Youth is best at. It is definitely a good song, but it is too normal for Sonic Youth. 4/5
Eben"s take: This could easily have been on Daydream Nation
. It has some of the feeling that is unique to Goo
, but the chorus-laden guitar easily reminds one of the Youths" previous release. It also has some gratuitous noise, and a repetitive chorus, like Total Trash or Hey Joni. It has a desolate and beautiful feeling to it, but the slick production of the chorus seems to detract from the overall feel of the song. 4/5
Eben"s take: Wow, at first it sounds like some of the guitar off of Confusion is Sex
. However, instead of a dark and brooding song we get another rocker. It"s uptempo with boring drumming and unappetizing guitar, although the solo is kind of fun. This is another casualty of a simplified, more straightforward style. 3.5/5
Eben"s take: The one positive thing about Sonic Youth"s newfound style is that it allows for a great continuity. It isn"t like they had to worry about that anyway, but this sounds remarkably similar to the previous three songs. Kool Thing is a groovy and sassy jam, and I would bet money that most people will enjoy it. If you want to get introduced to Sonic Youth, this is a good place. However, this is a more generic rock song from the group. It gains a few kool points because of Chuck D"s (isn"t it Chuck D?) cameo in the middle of the song. 4/5
Eben"s take: Mota
is a Spanish word for marijuana. Guess what this song is about! I tend to be a fan of Lee more than Thurston. While I enjoy Thurston"s voice, Lee is probably a better singer. From what I hear, he is a better solo songwriter, and from my experience, the songs he wrote for Sonic Youth are better than Thurston"s. Mote is no exception. It"s a strange and cool song, and totally deserving of your time. In addition to the strange riff, Thurston plays some hypnotic notes, putting his cheap tremolo to good use. At the end, Steve crashes the cymbals, and we get some patented gratuitous Sonic Youth feedback. 5/5
My Friend Goo
Eben"s take: This is by far the worst song on this CD. In fact, it is probably Sonic Youth"s worst song ever. Just skip it. I don"t have to skip it when I listen to it, but Kim"s singing is annoying. The problem isn"t really how she sings, but what she sings. There is an over-emphasis on words ending in oo. The music is nothing to write home about either. This is a throw-away song, and an enormous let down after Mote. 1/5
Eben"s take: The slick production works very well here. This song is somewhat of a bridge between songs like "Cross the Breeze/The Sprawl and songs like Theresa"s Sound World. It has some of the strange feeling of Daydream Nation
mixed with some of the commercial recording of Dirty
It has a rather subdued feel to it, and is beautiful in a strange way. I am assuming that I am alone in liking this track that much. There is some rather generic guitar in some parts, but this conforms to industry standards less than the first tracks do with their upbeat rock feel. 4.5/5
Eben"s take: This is another throw-away song. Unlike My Friend Goo, however, it is cool. Other than that, there isn"t much that one can say about it. Thurston unleashes a blood-curdling and highly processed scream of "Mildred Pierce" as the song ends. 3/5
Cinderella"s Big Score
Eben"s take: This is a cross-section of the album: really catchy, but lacking definitive substance. Kim"s singing is really much ado about nothing. There is a lot going on, but there isn"t terribly much cohesion. 4/5
Scooter & Jinx
Eben"s take: Whole lotta feedback. I won"t rate this one because it doesn"t have lyrics (even Mildred Pierce does), and it"s just a bunch of distorted guitar noise.
Eben"s take: This is a rather uninteresting song. The music sounds all right, but it is unengaging. It ends somewhat similarly to the trilogy in Daydream Nation
, and leaves somewhat to be desired. 3/5
Overall: 85/100 B
This is a good, solid album. It is very listenable and highly enjoyable. However, it simply does not possess the inventiveness of some of the other Sonic Youth releases. In the grand scheme of things, it is nothing special. I really love it, and I honestly think that it"s better than Dirty
. However, there is no particular reason that a music fan should buy this album if they don"t already have an affinity for Sonic Youth. Likewise, SY fans who understand what the band is capable of will likely be disappointed with this release. Sonic Youth was approaching a crossroads in styles at this point. They had kept a sound since Sister
and would continue to do so. This is a strong album, and for sonic qualities alone should probably receive better than a B. However, it is rather uninspired and uninspiring as a whole, and almost uncreative.
(I will be posting Zach's parts in this post when I hear from him next)