Always strong, Sonic Youth's newest effort is one that is likely to endure the test of time.
Sonic Youth: The Eternal
On learning that Sonic Youth had left the major label Geffen for the stalwart indie imprint Matador, fans of the New York art rockers breathed a collective sigh of relief. The guitarist Thurston Moore had been complaining about record-company interference in the band's recording process for some time. But was there really anything wrong with the last few Sonic Youth records? No, the last decade has been one of the band's most fruitful periods. The last three outings Murray Street, Sonic Nurse and Rather Ripped excellently flaunted the band's ability to infuse its noisier, experimental tendencies into engaging rock music. There was even a danger that the band's new-found freedom at Matador could tip them towards the avant-garde noise-jam territory of the band's late-Nineties releases. But thankfully that hasn't happened. Appropriately named, The Eternal is likely to become one of Sonic Youth's most enduring albums, perfectly completing the psych-tinged progressive rock quadrilogy that started with Murray Street. Except this album, the band's 15th, is the most grandiose thing Moore et al have produced since 1988's Daydream Nation. The opening Sacred Trickster kicks off with just the right amount of guitar fuzz and a wonderful vocal performance from Kim Gordon. There's plenty of fun to be had too, from the gothy Calming of the Snake, to the terrific Pavement-esque No Way. Then there's What We Know - one of the best pop songs that the band has written since the release of Goo in 1990. The Eternal certainly isn't the departure that many were expecting, but it's none the worse for it.