More Than A Band
Sonic Youth are to rock music what FC Barcelona are to football (soccer in America). They’re not just a band made famous through hard work and sticking to their own ideas. They’ve created a body of work where you can see the same characteristics and style managing to rise above whatever trends are happening, being something worth talking about. Just as the Catalan club uses the motto “Més que un club(more than a club),” Sonic Youth are more than a band. Their new album The Eternal is another complement to their legacy. While 2006’s Rather Ripped came off at the time as Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon putting on their Lou Reed and Nico outfits and paying loving homage to The Velvet Underground, The Eternal is an explosive, muscular set of songs that runs the gamut of guitar styles SY have used throughout their career. If SY were ever out of form, this would definitely be a return.
“Sacred Trickster” fires the opening salvos of the album with four slightly off-key notes yielding a joyous rumble of guitars, drums and feedback as Kim Gordon wails, “I want you to levitate me / Don’t you love me yet.” “What We Know” is an unexpected gem of a rocker, Lee Ranaldo singing “Heaven’s not about your reputation” over an absolutely mammoth guitar hook sprinkled with distortion and sustained whammy.
“Anti-Orgasm” is the shapeshifter of the set, mutating from Moore and Gordon exchanging verbal blows and finishing each other’s sentences to quiet moments of guitar chiming bliss to power chords and shards of noise. Here and throughout the album, Steve Shelley’s drumming is what holds the mix together as well as propels and pulses the music forward.
Some have said that Sonic Youth have been in a bit of a lull since the mid-’90s. With The Eternal being their Matador debut and their first outside the major label system in a long time, it might not be a coincidence that they’ve made an album that shows the band at their loudest, most energetic, muscular since Dirty.