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splendid > reviews > 7/19/2004
Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth
Sonic Nurse
Geffen


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream"

Buy me now
Self-imposed pressure to praise Sonic Nurse on the strength of Sonic Youth's reputation alone dissolved after a couple listens. It turns out that Sonic Youth's 19th studio album is a fairly average jaunt into familiar indie rock territory, a place where male/female vocals duel one another over (insert post, neo, nü, etcetera) punk riffs and jangly guitars. The fact that Sonic Youth helped pave that road twenty years ago does not aid Sonic Nurse's cause; indeed, a history of trailblazing makes this type of musical complacency even more disappointing. If Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo built their reputations experimenting with challenging and innovative styles of no-wave in the early eighties, how do they justify a collection of songs, written in 2004, that reek of stagnant indie rock?

Songs like "Unmade Bed" and "Stones" remind us that audiences were once charmed by a medium-paced song built primarily on dissonant chords and ironic guitar voicings. Today, Moore and Ranaldo's voices are not nearly strong or nuanced enough to support seven minute songs -- especially when they're relatively uninteresting.

Sonic Nurse's lone bright spots are the handful of tunes crooned by the smoky-voiced Kim Gordon. The brilliant "Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" reminds us that even a forty-year-old can pen a chorus that seeps into our memory hours -- even days -- after the first listen.



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