Labyrinthine, sprawling soundscapes, mucho guitar—what did you expect?
The case for Sonic Youth’s immortality basically goes like this: name one other band that is simultaneously a punk band, a jam band, a designer of cerebral/architectural but jaggedly satisfying instrumental passages, a high-art purveyor of noise-as-noise, and reluctant fashion-plate for the now-greying alternative nation. Told you so. Simply put, Sonic Youth is an institution without much left to prove. Which may be why its recent albums have been so solid. Taking up where Sonic Nurse left off, Rather Ripped is about as accessible and smooth as this band is going to get, yet the mystery and menace of its iconoclastic past remain very much in evidence on songs like the dazzling “Pink Steam,” the taut “single” “Incinerate” and the gorgeous “Do You Believe in Rapture?” And, yes, the guitars are still a revelation.