A band I have really grown to dislike. Nothing they did with the guitar was any more revelatory than Keith Levene, John McGeogh or even Robert Smith (around faith). Any achievements they did make were immediately surpassed by Kevin Shields.
Otherwise, the songs are not really there. Just another shitty no wave band critics have been going on about for years (see also: swans). The last three songs on daydream nation are great though but I have approximately no desire to listen to them ever again.
Plus they were rude to Nuardwaur in their 30s and exploited Daniel Johnston (imo).
Will follow the polls with interest as only ever owned Daydream Nation and having just refreshed my memory on Spotify apparently I only ever listened as far as track 5 as I remember those well and nothing after that. Can someone suggest best starting point for the rest of their work?
Love daydream nation, it’s still in my top five favourite albums. I just love the sound and attitude. For me, they are fantastic. Even the later albums were strong, if a little samey. Saw them live at a V festival of all places.
Some absolutely untouchable albums (Goo, Daydream Nation, Dirty). Never got into the experimental stuff. Wish I could’ve caught them live while they were still going. Agree with the comment upthread about them coming across as insufferable in the 90s
It seems to me that Sonic Youth’s very long career has been based almost exclusively on their being “people of good taste” - curators, in other words, who can turn a notionally ignorant audience on to cool stuff. I think this is subtly but decisively different from being a portal: a portal is itself intensifying, there is a mutual process of libidinization between the portal and what it opens onto, whereas SY now derive practically all their credibility from gesturing to artists more marginal than them. (Also - portals function most powerfully when they are transversal connectors between different cultural domains, e.g. fiction and music - whereas many of SY’s references were to music, justifying the trend that will end up in mediocrities such as Starsailor parasiting credibility by association with great moments in rock history.) Ultimately, there’s something very uncomfortable about SY referring to the likes of Darby Crash while continuing on a thirty year, very stable, career as professional musicians and dilletantes. The problem isn’t quite that SY weren’t self-destructive fuck-ups as that they seem to be so pathologically well-adjusted that the music doesn’t appear to be performing any kind of sublimatory function for them. It isn’t that they “don’t mean it” so much as they only mean it, that, like the worst, most self-conscious meta-art, the work is reducible to a set of easily verbally explicable intentions. There is no sense, even in the early work as far as this listener is concerned, that the music is drawing on any unconscious material. (Improv and automatic writing are the worst ways to access the unconscious - discuss.) As Zone admits, like The Fall, SY have effectively pastiched themselves for the last two decades - and you have to ask: even if they were formally inventive in the first years of their existence , how can a group that is “combining and recombining previously-deployed moves into technically ‘new’ but very familiar shapes” be effectively differentiated from Status Quo?
Pretty ambivalent about SY. Have really really tried, and I should like them, but yeah, I don’t really get it. Giving them a 3/5 (would be 2.5/5 really) as I can appreciate their albums, but I don’t love them.