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Sonic Youth 

Rather Ripped


Sonic Youth
Rather Ripped
(Geffen)
The pre-release reports were not exaggerating when they pinned the latest Sonic Youth release (the band’s 20th) as a rock record. Rather Ripped, at its core, is just that—taking song structure down to its basics. But don’t fret—there are many moments of buzzing guitar noise and guitar neck explorations, usually in the form of mid-song interludes like on the opener, Kim’s “James’ Run Free” and Thurston’s “Incinerate.” And they keep emerging the more you listen. Perhaps one of the best tracks on the disc, Lee Renaldo’s “Rats,” is one such moment and demands an answer to why he only writes one or two songs each disc. His tunes are always a highlight and provide an abstract counterbalance to Kim and Thurston’s ever-converging writing style. Or consider “Do you believe in rapture,” which finds Lee and Thurston playing with half-muted strings over a quiet drum backdrop. Its simplicity, like looking at a Rothko painting, might make you say, “Anyone could do that,” but the point is no one else does. Or can. And that is what makes Sonic Youth so great, even after so long. How you rate this album will ultimately depend on how you wanted it to sound. But if you liked the rocking moments of Goo, Experimental Jet Set or Moore’s superb solo disc Psychic Hearts, then this release will be a favourite.
—Dave Hayden
categories: Coast pick

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