Sonic Youth is one of the most influential acts to still be playing music at this point of their career. How can they keep providing a bright light of brilliance to those individuals that will be creating bands in the near future? “Rather Ripped” starts out sedate, with “Reena” using a deadpan delivery by Kim coupled alongside a post-punk set of guitars that at times threaten to go into the progressive-rock of acts like Queens of the Stone Age.
On the other side of things, a synthesizer adds its two cents in at points to allow for a full sound that does not let up even when Kim’s vocals drop out. The band gets much less “nice sounding” at points when they go purely instrumental; the brooding, heavy notes of parts of this track allow “Reena” to go into a near-four minute runtime. The sedate sound of “Rather Ripped” is something that does not disappear after a few tracks, and this style shows a maturity to Sonic Youth that belies the band’s noisy roots. The cultured arrangements of tracks like “Incinerate” show that the band understands where they want to go with the tracks on the disc, and what the band wishes the listeners to think about the album. One theme that is present during “Rather Ripped” is that of seventies rock.
A number of the tracks, specifically those like “Sleepin’ Around”, use the crunchy guitar sounds of that period to fuel the fires of the disc. In that track, the vocals taken on a hint of Iggy Pop to complete the façade. Sonic Youth focus this seventies influence through a nineties alternative visor, so the excesses are smoothed out and are made more abstract. “What A Waste” breaks free from this self-imposed set of rules and regulations, and adds some of the noise element so common to Sonic Youth to the sedate, rounded guitar lines and smoothed-over drumming that is a common presence during “Rather Ripped”. Sonic Youth has laid the framework for the next wave of acts to meld together diametrically opposed styles (like nineties alternative and seventies rock) and not have the results of that meld seem like a Frankenstein’s monster. With well over a decade (closing in, if not already passing twenty years on the stage), Sonc Youth have proved yet again that they are one of the leaders in creating music that will be ultimately regarded as revolutionary 5, 10, or 20 years down the road.
Top Tracks: Reena, What A Waste