Friday, February 15, 2008
Rather Ripped - Sonic Youth
SCQ Rating: 81%
“Direct action gets the goods,” claims a spray-painted building featured in the lyric-less, graffiti-smeared liner notes of 'Rather Ripped'. And thank heavens; after twenty five years together, Sonic Youth still practice what they preach. From Kim Gordon’s anthemic wail in the opening bars of ‘Reena’, these no-wave pioneers waste little time in the absence of casual member/ fifth wheel Jim O’Rourke, spinning a collection of familiar S.Y. trademarks into invigorated, not recycled, territory. Yes, the odd guitar tunings, the distortion breakdowns, the so-ugly-it’s-pretty lyrics are all in attendance, but where 2004's Sonic Nurse felt bloated on occasion, Rather Ripped succeeds in its focus on raw songwriting over sonic eccentricities.
‘Incinerate’, which owes its head-shaking pulse to the notorious interweaving of their dual guitarists, displays this exercise in compression as their jams and excessive tendencies of past records are compacted to fit naturally within a five-minute time-frame (the exquisite ‘Jams Run Free’, although ironically titled, also complies to this punctuality). Aside from being a pristine guitar record, 'Rather Ripped' is also the closest they’ve come to full-fledged maturity. The Lou Reed-esque loneliness of ‘Do You Believe in Rapture?’ has lead guitar/singer Thurston Moore begging for second chances, while ‘Turquoise Boy’ and ‘The Neutral’ find Kim Gordon’s once tough-girl angst now romantically (and melodically) earnest. Thank you, Sonic Youth; the goods have been received.