Review Summary: Possibly the greatest album of the decade and the defining sound of Sonic Youth.
Daydream Nation was released to all sorts of problems. For one, their label was disbanded as soon as the album was released. Thankfully, many popular magazines picked up on the brilliant record and wrote Great review galore on the album. But for such an underground band, the achievement was still not recognized by the general public, even though Rolling Stone went as far as to call it the greatest album of the decade, and it didn't sell. For some time it was completely out of print. But this era of uncertainty for the band did not last long as good news awaited the cult heroes. DGC music re-issued the album on their label, Teenage Riot was propelled to #20 on the Modern Rock Charts, and the band came out with a new Album. But the album still did not excel in sales, not even reaching gold status 18 years after its creation. But it is still recognized as the defining sound of the generation, much like Nirvana and generation X, which Sonic Youth had perhaps the biggest hand in propelling to stardom with their touring with the young band and movie, "1991: the year punk broke".
The album starts with the aforementioned "Teenage Riot", a song with a slow, almost hypnotic start, which is helped by a melodic Kim Gordon repeating the phrase "Sweet desire...” Then it kicks in with a new guitar riff and the song ensues, with Thurston Moore's signature droning yet powerful voice, much like a hay-day Billy Cogan. Next is Silver Rocket, a fast paced track with an angrier Moore singing a notorious chorus, with the lines "You gotta silver rocket, burnin a hole in your pocket". Then comes The Sprawl, which is based on the works of William Gibson. Gordon takes the mic on this song and uses it with a vengeance; with particularly devious lyrics such as "Are you for sale" Does *** you sound simple enough"” Next is my favorite track of the album, the speed-driven "'Cross the Breeze", again with Kim Gordon on vocals and a shredding guitar coming in with an almost impossible-to-match chiming effect.
The album almost sounds as if comes alive once again, almost like the prologue has ended.
Eric's Trip has Renaldo on vocals, and a guitar effect driven sound wave comes flying at you, with a very offbeat set of lyrics to match the intensity of Renaldo's masterful craftsmanship of 5 strings. Then comes Total Trash, dare I say the worst track of the album. But I am only calling it that because it is almost if it was a giant, standing with even taller ones. It is still a great track, but it's downfall is it repetitive guitars. Then comes Hey Joni, a return to the trashing noise rock they were known for, but with a more organized flow to it. The guitars almost sound as if they were xylophones, clanging to the track's beat. Providence is an eerie track, with no guitars, no drums, no bass, not even lyrics. In fact what it is is the sound of an amp overheating, Thurston Moore playing piano (which was very fuzzy because it was recorded at his mother's house on a walkman), and a set of messages from Mike Watt while in Providence, Rhode Island. After the very offbeat Providence comes Candle, one of their more recognizable tracks. It starts with an upbeat riff, which slowly winds down into a depth of darkness, and then the song starts. Its solo is the most astounding feat, as the guitar screeches like fingers on a chalkboard, but with the most listenable sound to counterweigh the chaotic screams. Rain King is a very dark track with a sound that comes off notoriously sinister. Kissability is the return of Gordon yet again on vocals and is a suggestive song with a drumbeat that compliments it, and a chorus that acts as the glossy finish.
Trilogy is on a completely different level than the entire epic album. It is a three-part sonic symphony of lyrics which are full of mentions of dejavu, a orchestra of instrumental wonder, and enough jam sessions to make up for the lack there of on the rest of the album. Its first part uses the siren sound of the guitars to its advantage, while the second part is a slow-paced spacey jumble of dreamy lyrics. Then comes the third and final part, Eliminator Jr., Kim Gordon's master track that is an infusion of her angst-filled voice and a fast-paced energetic tune that ends the album perfectly.
All in all, the album is a masterpiece of the genius of Renaldo, Moore, Gordon, and Shelley, and still remains an indie standard today. But its lack of financial success turned it into an almost perfect example of an indie classic, much like "Rocky Horror Picture Show" was to the film industry, a cult classic with no sequel that could possibly match it's originality.