Sonic Youth – The Eternal Sonic Youth – The Eternal

Sonic Youth - The Eternal

Sonic Youth - The Eternal

I practically feel like Thurston, Kim, Lee, and Steve are old friends of mine by now, which means I tend to overlook or easily forgive their weirder tendencies and bad ideas. Which isn’t to say The Eternal is a bad record, because there are some totally awesome moments and even a handful of killer songs. More accurately, The Eternal should be filed under “just-another-Sonic-Youth-record,” which is expected of any band that’s released over ten albums.

The Eternal takes a more rockin’ approach to the direct and melodic songwriting on 2006’s Rather Ripped, harkening back to their early 90’s albums that tipped their song-to-noise ratio almost to the point of making straight-up rock n’ roll. The Lee Ranaldo-fronted standout “What We Know” contains their guitar violence within the confines of typical verse-chorus-repeat structure with pretty awesome results, menace and power that exudes coolness. While opener “Sacred Trickster” and “Calming the Snake” thrash with a punk energy that seems impossible for musicians as old as Sonic Youth, they’re most successful when they set the songs to a low boil, like on the paced shimmer of “Antenna,” one of the most gorgeous songs they’ve ever written and the best song on this album. The fragile closer “Massage the History” finds Kim Gordon whispering the words in a terror-stricken falsetto, bringing the album to a stirring and haunting end.

I generally blame the weaker material on its clunky goofiness (“Anti-Orgasm”, “Leaky Lifeboat”) and tendency towards noise segments, which are kindly saved when tight drum beats or solid guitar riffs swoop in to rescue them. Don’t get me wrong, I love their trademark feedback and formless freakouts as much as the next guy, but when they’ve been on such a melodic heat streak for the past few albums, some real commitment to real songs doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

1. Sacred Trickster
2. Anti-Orgasm
3. Leaky Lifeboat (for Gregory Corso)
4. Antenna
5. What We Know
6. Calming The Snake
7. Poison Arrow
8. Malibu Gas Station
9. Thunderclap For Bobby Pyn
10. No Way
11. Walkin Blue
12. Massage The History

Sonic Youth - The Eternal, reviewed by Squeri on 2009-07-08T07:51:53-07:00 rating 3.5 out of 5

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