Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse

Alex Worsnip 07/02/2004

Rating: 3/5

Christ, are Sonic Youth really still going? I mean, I'm a massive fan of their prime recordings: albums like 'Daydream Nation' and 'Dirty' are alternative staples. But can anyone's 19th album be any good? Previous album 'Murray Street' was hailed as a return to form, and a return from their own backsides after countless 'experimental' albums (which, for a band, like Sonic Youth, is going to be pretty far-out). And yes, Sonic Nurse sounds, largely, rather good. But should they really still be doing this? What about growing old gracefully? Surely it shouldn't be allowed.

Unfortunately for their detractors, the songs here are rather too good for that. Opener 'Pattern Recognition' is rumbling, sinister and effectively produced, playing to their strengths. They generally play to their strengths well here, balancing out melodic intensity, fiery spirit and experimental noise just about right. Unfortunately, the problem is, on their 19th album, it sounds a little too calcuated. They've found the perfect formula; but they're just not as vital as in 1988. Not that their songs are getting quiet, or even tired. Just that, we've heard them do it before.

None of this can actually detract from the fact that this is a good album. They're still having fun, as evidenced with titles such as 'Kim Gordon And The Arthur Doyle Hand Cream' and the political closer 'Peace Attack'. The textured, melodic likes of 'Unmade Bed' are pleasingly song-based and structured, and the old angular guitars still chop around from time to time. They even have fun taking the mickey out of Mariah Carey and Blink 182 on '...Hand Cream' and 'Dude Ranch Nurse' respectively. Not the first Sonic Youth album to buy, but fans will be more than satisfied.