Eternally Heavy

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Sonic Youth — The Eternal
CD Review
by Adam Perry for the Santa Fe New Mexican
6/26/09

“What’s it like to be a girl in a band?” Sonic Youth bassist/singer Kim Gordon asks in “Sacred Trickster,” which opens Sonic Youth’s distortion-fueled new Matador LP The Eternal. The answer, in this case, is loud. Somewhat confirming singer/guitarist Thurston Moore’s May outing as a metal addict in the head-banger rag Decibel, The Eternal recently thrashed and snarled its way onto my iPod, which actually survived the experience. Following 2006’s intelligently-epic and diverse Rather Ripped, which most Sonic Youth fans agree matched the best of the band’s quarter-century spanning catalog, The Eternal is a furious, heavy and fun Stooges-meets-Metallica jaunt through chopping, sludgy guitars; big arena-rock drums; and songs about French painters, German models, Britney Spears and Gregory Corso. Easily Sonic Youth’s most consistently visceral and charging album since 1992’s Dirty, The Eternal effectively takes all of ringleader Moore’s peripheral interests (from his literature-buff column in Arthur to putting out experimental noise-rock albums via his Ecstatic Peace! label) and channels them into a fist via heated hardcore send-ups like “Thunderclap” and “Anti-Orgasm”; those tracks and others juxtapose crunchy, full guitars with early-punk-esque surrealist lyrics such as “mission control to the brain police” and “I want you to levitate me/don’t you love me?” Sonic Youth has always been less about tension-and-release than layering (and then exploding) discord like a fuzz-heavy version of Television, or Black Flag jamming with Albert Ayler; The Eternal takes that classic discord and creates an entire entertaining album out of it.

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