Sonic Youth are often credited with creating a special album. An album so amazing that it in fact remains one of the pinnacles of the eighties acheivements. Sonic Youth didn't just make an album, they pretty much made a generation of young punks out of the former clueless teenagers who didn't grasp whether or not punk had moved on. But they made an album..
Sonic Youth made Daydream Nation
, one of mankind's greatest achievements.
But let's move on. SY have put out numerous albums since, most of which are at the least remarkably listenable, and some could match DN anyday. Though, after twenty-five years of appearing on everyone's favorite playlists, SY haven't evolved that much. They're still fighting the effects of aging, even if they are starting to dawn they're fifties. But here they are still, making incredible music.
They're newest release, Rather Ripped
, is nothing short of a fantastic reminder that the Sonic Youth clan are still around and still making incredibly powerful and moving music. Even after twenty-five years they can manage the occasional punk explosion, though becoming somewhat scarce on they're newer albums. What's fantastic though, is they keep the music very interesting, and while there may not be that much variety on this album it shows that you can listen to the same kind of music a few times and not get bored in the least. Fantastic performances surface in songs that range from noise-rock to ballad-filled moan-fests, and even give a hint at experimental stabs at eighties punk.
The most undeniable song on here is the noise-rock conspiracy of Pink Steam
, which is an entirely instrumental piece that ventures into the world of epic jams. The appeal of this song doesn't come immediatly, as for a little while it's just harmonics being plucked, but the song explodes into a very compelling and interesting jam with as many twists and turns as a jam could allow, while maintaining to keep they're focus on the main sound of the song, which appears to be a very sad and epic journey of sounds from the band. The lead performances from the guitars switch between simple and delicious, and the fuzz-drowned lead that can escape into some really awesome solos. When the vocals come in, it morphs into a very organized song, but it's very dark atmosphere stays as Thruston cranks out a bunch of meaningless lyrics. The lead guitar in the chorus is something of an amazing experience to listen to. What follows is the album closer, Or
, which proves to be a ballad at heart but also maintains the passion of the Youths in a great amount. What emerges is a sole and undistorted guitar swarmed in a bevy of indian drums and a mellow and cool performance from Thruston. This song, though simple, emerges as nothing short as spectacular and is the perfect way to close an album of such variety that it can only seem like an essential track.
is the quintessential nineties song, as it seems to rush through as many styles as it can. The soft and soothing guitars seem to duke it out just under the commanding howl of Thruston, who sings of, well, incineration. The music is really the highlight here, though, while it seems to hold the song together by managing to keep entertaining and interesting with their many different riffs and stylings. The drums seem to thump there way through the song, while adding many interesting fills and cymbal splashed melodies, and the bass, well, it just keeps on' keepin' on. Hearing the guitars rush throught such influences as Hawaiian chords and effects to eighties-era post-punk riffs that are blasted forward to seem modern, hell even futuristic. Same goes with the Kim Gordon led The Neutral
, which switches between nineties-dwelling sounds, while the song also gets seemingly launched into the future with it's very soothing and calm guitars in the verse, and it's almost Stairway to Heaven
kind of chorus, but without the cheese. And it also adds a killer lead riff over the otherwise boring chord sequence. This song is quite an example of what Sonic Youth are capable of in terms of welding two somewhat different things together.
The somewhat brilliant song Do You Believe in Rapture"
relies on both sonic noises and amazingly variable guitar harmonics. When Thruston is singing, you can't help but feel his pain, though he doesn't seem to be singing about anything painful in particular and sounds actually quite nice. But what makes this song incredible is the complete relaxability and the shifting moods of the guitars, which range from simple and elegant to fierce and still quite fascinating at the same time. This recurs throughout the album, and while it's still quite awesome to listen to, none can quite measure up to previously said tracks. However, Turquoise Boy
comes remarkably close, with it's upbeat backdrop set up with strange noises and the eventual coming of a pop song with an attitude, which then leads into a straight forward heavy rock song with little more than a rhythm guitar, a lead and a follow-ish rhythm section. While not always fantastic, it does it's purpose of serving up the groove.
What Rather Ripped
serves up is a varied array of alt. rockers from one of the bands that helped define the genres of alternative and indie. And while this is no Daydream Nation
, it still can fascinate viewers who are looking for a great time and want to reminisce about the past with the band, seeing as this album is a return to they're triumphant late eighties days. The revolutionary days. Sure, this isn't a perfect album, but the variety on this album will probably leave a few people unsatisfied just a little bit, but not enough that they can't enjoy this album. However, this is an amazingly solid release from a band who obviously haven't gotten boring after a quarter of a century. Just more of the same from one of today's and yesterday's top acts.