In 2002, Sonic Youth released Murray Street
, the first in what is now a series of solid post-20th-century releases from the band. It's follow-up, Sonic Nurse
, was released in 2004 to much critical acclaim. Rather Ripped
, the group's latest album continues the ideas of Murray Street
and Sonic Nurse
and is one of the mellowest albums from Sonic Youth yet.
Thurston Moore - Guitar, Vocals
Kim Gordon - Bass, Vocals
Lee Ranaldo - Guitar, Vocals
Steve Shelley - Drums
Sonic Youth have to be one of the most reliable bands in modern indie rock. For the better part of 25 years now, they have maintained a solid and steady output of albums. It may be true that quite a few of their records have come under criticism from fans and critics alike, but it's almost a guarantee that if Sonic Youth release an album, someone, somewhere, will find something to like about it. Indeed, on the strength of the band's last two records, it is no longer a surprise that Sonic Youth are able to release such quality material so late in their career.
The most interesting and obvious thing to note about Rather Ripped
is the fact that it doesn't include much of the sprawled out jamming or noise experiments that Sonic Youth are so famous for. While this may be a dissapointment for some fans it is, at the very least, proof that Sonic Youth are capable of writing great rock songs. Although the record is generally comprised of standard length rock songs, Kim Gordon's contribution "Turquoise Boy" takes advantage of those sprawling sounds while the 7 minute mostly instrumental "Pink Steam" is both a long jam and one of the best songs that Rather Ripped
has to offer.
Thurston Moore contributes the majority of the tracks on Rather Ripped
while Kim Gordon contributes a couple of the albums strongest tracks, most notably "Reena" and "What a Waste". Lee Ranaldo's sole contribution comes in the form of "Rats", one of the albums most fun songs. Sporting one of the best bass riffs Sonic Youth have ever written, "Rats" is dissapointing for the sole reason that it's Lee's only contribution and it would have been nice to see more of him on Rather Ripped
. The album has a number of rockers, such as the aforementioned "Rats" as well as "Incinerate" and "Sleepin Around". Though the album is generally made up of such tracks, it's quite often the album's more sparse songs that are it's most interesting. Probably the best example of this is the album's closer, the folk sounding "Or", which seems to include little but some soft percussion, Moore's voice and a simple and repetitive but beautiful guitar riff.
Overall, Rather Ripped
is a mellow, catchy and most importantly, solid album. Where most bands at Sonic Youth's age are rehashing old sounds, it's refreshing to see a band who continually do something new and, as a result, release quality albums 25 years into their career.
Mellow and catchy guitar riffs
The band leave noisy experiments out of the picture with good results
The inclusion of some sprawling jam based tracks (Turquoise Boy, Pink Steam)
A couple of weak tracks
More input from Lee Ranaldo would have been nice
FINAL RATING: 4/5