July 7, 2010

Sonic Youth – Murray Street
indie-rock, noise-rock

With Murray Street, Sonic Youth released one of the most restrained, low-key and blatantly non-experimental albums of their career, one that’s accessible in a way that seems almost Sonic Youth - Murray Streetout of character for the band. Sure, there’s a handful of experimental bits and pieces – the most obvious being the lengthy squall of guitar noise tacked onto the end of “Karen Revisited” – but for the most part the album is driven by highly melodic guitar lines and consistent percussion that allows pretty much every song to settle into a nice groove that’s catchy and effortlessly listenable. It’s particularly apparent on the opening trifecta of “Disconnection Notice”, “The Empty Page” and “Rain on Tin”, as Thurston Moore’s vocal stays constantly in second-gear, and the guitar melodies are foot-tappy and mellow in a way that signifies an unmistakable maturity that really suits the group. Thankfully, none of this makes Murray Street any less engaging than Sonic Youth’s other albums, as the combination of intensity, tight playing and fine songwriting that has always been their trademark remains well-and-truly intact. There’s no denying, though, that Sonic Youth sound comfortable and confident here in a way that’s not quite like anything they’ve done before, and the result is one of their best releases in over a decade.