Dreaming, dreaming of a girl like me…
Sonic Youth - Goo.
Here comes the major. In June, 1990 Sonic Youth related their first major label album Goo. the band were apparently pissed that it was on a subsidiary of the main arm of Geffen Records, whether or not this influenced the writing on the band name and album title over the centre of the vinyl I may never know.
The album only got to Number 32 in the U.K. Charts but this was much higher than Daydream Nation (99). Goo was available in Woolworths, so it was much more widely distributed for sure.
So, what does it sound like / where did they head? Is it more mainstream? Well, yes and no. It to me, now, sounds like In Utero minus the full self-destruct button utilisation. I bought Goo day one of release. I liked it a lot, but it doesn’t top Daydream Nation as a whole… yet in paces it does.
Dirty Boots is pretty perfect to kick the album off. It’s still the Sonic Youth we have grown to know. It is more polished but as abrasive as ever.
Then, Sonic Youth go and take the album somewhere quite unique. Another contender for their best ever song in Tunic (Song For Karen). An overwhelming sadness runs throughout the track. Massive waves of emotion that establish Kim Gordon as more than a generational underground rock star. The way those devastating lines are delivered, straight faced - yet laced with emotive sucker punches. It really is hard to listen to it and not feel incredibly sad. The tone of the music, the duality in the lyrics. I read Kim Gordon looked up to The Carpenters and they were painted as this all American band, all happy, yet she said their eyes looked hollow, bleak, like they were masking something, dead inside. Tunic has this musical interlude almost where one can almost sense ascension, the hollow and swelling sounds, the low voices. It’s as good as the band (Sonic Youth) get.
Juxtaposing this is Mary Christ where Sonic Youth go B-52’s crash into the Fall. It’s messy and sets Goo back on track after the previous devastation of Tunic. Nice Kool Thing intro in its fade-out, before, you guessed it Kool Thing. Neat, sharp and maybe it should have been a bigger hit. Kool Thing stands the test of time and Chuck D, despite featuring far less than I remembered, adds a nice new feel and angle.
Ranaldo is let loose on vocals on Mote and it’s probably just me, but this track always makes me think of New Order. his vocal delivery is fantastic before the track falls down a deep hole of experimental noise which it never gets out of.
My Friend Goo like a bastardised nursery rhyme is slabby yet nearing Pop, and Side A is done.
Side B kicks off with a Daydream Nation feel and pull in Disappearer. Moore comes to the front and the song has al the cool qualities we expect from the band. Some great guitars wrapping around each other, picking up speed - and then just legging it. I never knew it wasn’t called Disappear until last week!
Like Blondie on steroids Mildred Pierce comes out of the traps fast. One Way Or Another it descends into hardcore chaos. It is short, but it sure is eventful.
Cinderella’s Big Score conjures up that aural smoke machine that we first heard on Daydream Nation, yet Goo has a different feel to DN, not sure why or how, but it does. Scooter + Jinx is essentially feedback / noise which doesn’t reach the feels of Providence.
Goo ends with Titanium Expose. Like Hawkwind playing Thrash Metal the song is both heavy and light, angular yet, again, somehow Pop in places. It is a melting pot.
In 1990 Total Recall and Jacob’s Ladder were on at the cinema, Twin Peaks was on your television. Primal Scream released Loaded, Adamski - Killer.
From its Black Flag artist sleeve to it’s near defiance to not actually be mainstream I never have know how I really feel about Goo. It doesn’t have the true album feel of Daydream Nation, or indeed a few albums before DN. Yet still it feels like they were exactly where they should have been back in 1990. Making waves. In their own way.
It’s probably an 8/10 overall in all honesty. However Tunic (Song For Karen) is so haunting and emotionally triggering that it alone makes the album a 9…