Sonic Youth have been successfully treading the underground for three decades and are one of the very few Eighties pre-grunge outfits to have kept going, rather than reform in pursuit of past glory. Perhaps the fact that those past glories were somewhat under appreciated by the masses, now serves as an invalid reason for commercial success to be beyond reach.
Thurston Moore is head honcho for the NYC crew and has already ventured into solo territory, including a number of film scores. Those ventures have never been in pursuit of commercial success either, but more acts of self expression. This latest set of tunes is very much representative of that approach. With Beck on production duties, there’s an obvious crankiness to proceedings and catches Moore in reflective mood, often quite sombre.
Musically, the contrast with Sonic Youth could not be more extreme; essentially an acoustic set, with guitar being accompanied by strategically blended violin and harp. The arrangements are often complex though, with improvisation within the melodies and a lyrical depth that is beyond pure contemplation or imagination. Composed over a two-year period, there is clear segregation between numbers, yet with a common introspective manner, that conjures up images of summer days spent achieving nothing other than capturing the mood of the day. There’s no reaching out to new audiences here nor attempts to break ground, just an accessible expression by an artist with the freedom to do just that.
Words by TC