Nineteen records down the line, and New York grit-strafed abstract guitar rock stalwart quintet Sonic Youth has unveiled one of its most intriguing recordings to date with Sonic Nurse. The culmination of more than two decades of balancing harmony and chaos takes shape like nothing the group has offered before. And though much contemporary press forces lazy comparisons of Nurse's blemishes and brightest moments to everything from past glories, like seminal proto-pop Daydream Nation, to the more recent mellowed Murray Street, the assessments are unfounded. Sonic Nurse is greater than the sum of its parts.
Kim Gordon's breathy and accusatory groans and Thurston Moore's trademark plunking/riffing/winding guitar in the album's opener, "Pattern Recognition," are unmistakable reminders that this is the same group that has been droning away for years. But the album intro is merely an easy point of entry before diving headlong into surging new terrain.
"Dripping Dream" opens the floodgates into Nurse's cerebral flow. Clocking in with just under eight minutes of preparatory jamming, Moore's understated guitar and vocal delivery resonates with warm and mostly unaffected pop tones that cleanse the mind of any and all expectations. "Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" breathes new life into the swelling aural splatter that put SY on the map. "I Love You Golden Blue" and "Peace Attack" unfold with serene and uncultivated spaciousness proving that after all these years, Sonic Youth still has plenty of room to roam.
Sonic Youth plays EarthLink Live Sat., Aug. 21, 9 p.m. $25.
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