Ah, the latest in the Sonic Youth “New York” trilogy. What to say? After a flaming engine from one of the 9-11 jets nearly took out their recording studio on Murray Street (hence the title)—I guess it’s a miracle this collection saw the light of day. Having been hailed as a return to the Daydream Nation days, I would hesitate to compare these long-winded rock songs to the band’s finest work—though this is still a solid rock album that suffers primarily from some excessive jam-noodling here and there.
Featuring the addition of bassist and mastermind producer, Jim O’Rourke, SY seems to be slowly finding a new groove—a mellower approach to cacophony that picks it moments between catchy hooks. But the album still feels like a mid-level sampling of the band’s power: skeletal ‘70s No-Wave remains mixed with accessible static rockers and helter-skelter noise composition (aided here by the subtle ambient sensibilities of O’Rourke).
Nevertheless, the band always finds ways to be interesting, be it another angular Kim Gordon song ("Sympathy for the Strawberry") or the multi-layered crescendo of guitarist Renaldo’s creeping "Karen Revisited." For a band in its 21st year of sonic exploration (and 16th album), the music is still relevant, but it is unlikely hardcore fans will ever be completely satisfied with the fluctuating road—not quite punk, not quite experimental—but a thing of its own.