At first, you respected more than actually liked Sonic Youth. They were a great idea on paper. Then Daydream Nation happened and you were bowled over--you not only liked Sonic Youth, but all of the bands that took their dissonant guitar ideas as musical cornerstones. So you eagerly scooped up Goo and Dirty as the whole "alternative" scene exploded around you. You liked, often loved, how they wrapped popsongs in that huge guitar blanket.
Meanwhile, having realized they'll never go multi-platinum with their "pop" records, but secure in their status as one of the elder statesmen of "alternative," Sonic Youth deliver one of their most difficult albums in years. Difficult in the sense that you won't find any songs like "Sugar Kane" or "Tunic" or even "Teen-age Riot" to drag you into the rest of the album. So forget liking it instantly. In fact, maybe you even dissed it to your friends: "I just listened to the new Sonic Youth, and I'm still waiting for the first song to come on."
But because this is Sonic Youth, for christ's sake, you put it on again and again, and you start realizing the album really is of a piece. Sonic Youth isn't making music solely to meet your expectations. On Experimental ... as signified by the acoustic lead cut, "Winner's Blues," the pleasures are more subtle. Even the few noisy bits seem folk-like in their quiet intensity. And you start noticing Kim Gordon's little whoops or Thurston Moore's phrases like "Superchunk society" or how those guitars can still make you grin.
And all and all you have to conclude, that no, while it doesn't move you like their previous couple of records, Sonic Youth have made another damn fine album on their own terms. Which is all you could ask of a great band.
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This document last modified 05 July, 1995.
I was listening to American Music Club -- San Francisco.