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Sonic Youth | The Eternal

Matador (2009)
2.5 2.5 Stars


Listen:Sonic Youth, "Sacred Trickster" (mp3)
This is Sonic Youth's first release on Matador Records, a retirement home for long-in-the-tooth indie-rockers, after two decades of major-label albums and one celebrity-curated Starbucks hits compilation. Maybe discovering that Beck's favorite Sonic Youth song is "Sugar Kane" threw them for a loop, because The Eternal abandons the comfortable maturity of their three previous excellent records in favor of the throwback '90s sound of Dirty. They've even let throwback '90s bassist Mark Ibold join the band as a full member.

What it lacks in depth, the release makes up for in spirit. "Sacred Trickster" and "Thunderclap" are infectious rockers that don't belabor the point; each expires after two minutes. "Anti-Orgasm" tosses off lyrical platitudes with an earnest rebellion that should be reserved for teenagers; it's saved by a hard-edged guitar squall and the novelty of the shared vocals from Thurston and Kim.

The best tracks, "What We Know" and "Walkin Blues," are, no surprise, from the reliable Lee Ranaldo. His voice is clear and confident, and the songs possess a strength and dignity that befit a songwriter of his stature and age. The Eternal is a fun, superficial tangent, disappointing in its regressiveness but enjoyable as long you don't examine it too closely.
Related: Dropping by with an old friend, Photos: Sonic Youth at the Wilbur Theatre, Post-punk pantheon, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Pop and Rock Music,  More more >
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