Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sonic Youth - The Destroyed Room

NOFX has a B-sides and rarities compilation called 45 or 46 songs That Weren't Good Enough to Go on Our Other Records. The joke, of course, is that that's usually what those types of compilations are (and definitely true of that NOFX comp).

Not so with The Destroyed Room though, which is easily the best thing Sonic Youth has released since 1992, if not before. A lot of the tracks here are more electronic- and effects-oriented work from their time with Jim O'Rourke. It doesn't really sound like a traditional Sonic Youth record, but that's a good thing: everything they've put out in the 2000's sounds like typical Sonic Youth, so there's no good reason for me to listen to Murray Street or Sonic Nurse instead of Sister. Since they signed to Geffen, all of their really exploratory impulses have been released in the context of solo projects, so the "Sonic Youth" brand has been a series of predictable "return to form" albums (that, let's face it, just aren't Daydream Nation) instead of pushing into any new territory. So despite the fact that The Destroyed Room is short on the visceral, string-scraping guitar acrobatics we've come to expect from Thurston and Lee, they make up for it with a renewed spirit of sonic exploration. Sonic Youth isn't exciting to me unless I feel like they're discovering sounds that are new to them, which they haven't in a long, long time. With musicians this talented, a new form is usually better than a return to form.

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