Sonic Youth Burn The Eternal Flame

noah | June 8, 2009 10:00 am

Our look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to the 15th studio album by Sonic Youth, The Eternal, which arrives in stores tomorrow and is currently streaming on iLike: • “Besides, The Eternal could turn out to be a grower. It certainly has happened before with Sonic Youth, whose unique place in rock history–as a kind of living glue between late-70s post-punk and 90s alternative, 80s DIY indie and 00s net-age, tight pop and improvised noise, hard punk and hippie jams, etc.–is secure, no matter what time reveals about individual albums. At the very least, some excellent songs lurk among these 12 tracks, and there’s enough potential for debate about which are which to make The Eternal worthy of Sonic Youth’s singular canon.” [Marc Masters, Pitchfork] • “So here’s a Sonic Youth record in which Ms. Gordon sings all the best stuff. It begins with a short, hard and self-referential rock song, ‘Sacred Trickster.’ (‘What’s it like to be a girl in a band?’ she intones. ‘I don’t quite understand/that’s so quaint to hear/I feel so free, my dear.’) It ends with the psychedelic folk of ‘Massage the History,’ the record’s sleeper stunner. It’s her stock in trade: a calling-into-darkness narrative. But something’s really at stake in this performance. ‘All the money’s gone,’ she sings. ‘Funny, it was never here.’ And then, quietly, with a bit of echo, over the band’s creeping persistence: ‘Come with me to the other side/Not everyone makes it out alive.’ There’s some trick emotion here, in the singing and the music, something unsettled and uncertain. After hearing almost 30 years’ worth of songs like this, I still don’t know what it is. That’s good.” [Ben Ratliff, New York Times] • “But 30 years into a career that has, at alternating moments, been both dramatically under- and ridiculously overrated, Sonic Youth has delivered a masterful disc to remind us why we cared.” [Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times] • “When Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon yelp ‘anti-war is anti-orgasm!’ over thrusting guitars and sledgehammer drums, they sound like teenagers plotting revolution while listening to a Stooges album stolen from their parents. Or, for that matter, another Sonic Youth record: the figures they evoke most passionately are their younger selves. You hear it best when the fire of ‘Anti-Orgasm’ is doused by fluidly beautiful melody, and a hum of radio static scratches at the surface of the limpid ‘Antenna’: both songs are as scintillating as diamonds.” [Maddy Costa, The Guardian]

Sonic Youth [iLike]