Sonic Youth - Murray Street (Cover Artwork)

Sonic Youth

Murray Street (2002)


Murray Street is Sonic Youth's first proper album since 2000's boring NYC Ghosts & Flowers, and it finds the band as close to top form as they've been since they became grunge stars in the wake of Nirvana's rise to fame in the early 90s.

A statement like that should, of course, be qualified – Murray Street is no Daydream Nation. It's no Sister. It's not even a Bad Moon Rising. What it is, however, is a good album from a bunch of 40-somethings who wrote the book on avant-garde art rock.

Sonic Youth has added producer/Gastr del Sol musician/all around pretentious Chicago asshole Jim O'Rourke to their full-time lineup and the result is a short set of seven songs that, for the most part, have a lot of slick sheen to them and achieve a good marriage of Sonic Youth's experimental side and O'Rourke's keen pop sensibility. The songs are nothing like the Bacharach-esque compositions on one of O'Rourke's own albums, but it wouldn't be too hard to imagine one of these songs on commercial alternative radio in between the latest from Rammstein and Eminem. Actually, that's a horrible thought.

Thurston Moore's voice sounds great throughout the album, and his work on the first half of the album is nearly on par with his mid to late 80s work. Kim Gordon, on the other hand, should probably refrain from screeching so much. Gordon's voice shows her age, and it just makes her sound kind of pathetic. Fortunately, someone must have realized this – Gordon only sings on two songs (the awful and previously available from the band's website "Plastic Sun" and the nine minute closer, "Sympathy for the Strawberry").

Murray Street shows that while Sonic Youth are most certainly a bunch of over-the-hill, kicked-the-drugs, we-have-children rockers, they're not to be completely written out of the game.