A Thousand Leaves
I was a late convert to Sonic Youth’s music, so it was not until the Dirty album that I became a fan. In many ways, this puts me at a disadvantage. Since I searched out their older material, I eventually came to see their later releases as weak. This is a trend that began with Experimental and continued through Washing Machine, especially their 19-minute opus, “The Diamond Sea.” Their latest disc, A Thousand Leaves, does nothing to deter me from these conclusions. This disc, similar to Washing Machine lyrically and musically, sounds more reflective and mature. This is not a bad thing. The volcanic eruptions of sounds have developed into nuanced approaches, rich with texture. Lyrically, the group reflects a broader appreciation of age and loss. However, it is on these subjects that the album begins to bog down. The sporadic dissonance is no longer innovative, but tiresome. Kim Gordon’s attack on “male, white, corporate oppression” is no longer witty and innovative, but tiresome and mundane. Furthermore, the album lacks the spirit of their earlier releases. It is difficult to put a finger on it, but something is missing here. The only conclusion I could make about this album is this: If you want to hear good Sonic Youth, pick a copy of Daydream Nation or Screaming Fields of Sonic Love.