1998, Music

A Thousand Leaves (1998) by Sonic Youth

The first track makes me think of their early music, even though I haven’t heard anything earlier than their earlier than their fourth album, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. But anyway the opening makes it sound like they’ve gone more experimental. (Actually a few tracks do.)

But the “experimental” (read: atonal) beginning and later tracks where they get weird are contrasted with some of their most accessible music; that’s a relative thing I know, but there’s been enough bands inspired by Sonic Youth at this point that the unusual tunings have stopped sounding unusual. (Just think of Top 40 now – there’s all kinds of music that’s tonally weird now, which would have offended ears in the 1980s.)

It should be a weird contrast but it’s actually a nice balance – there’s not too much of one or the other and we’re left with the impression that they can still sound “out there” if they want to, but there also capable of writing songs, like they were at their peak.

Given the nature of their music, it’s entirely possible that after a few more listens, I could come to think of this as one of their best albums(at least of the 1990s). But at the moment I am content with viewing it as pretty good, and a reasonable middle ground between their competing impulses.

7/10

All tracks written by Sonic Youth.

  1. “Contre le sexisme” lyrics by Gordon 3:55
  2. “Sunday” lyrics by Moore 4:52
    “Female Mechanic Now on Duty” lyrics by Gordon 7:43
  3. “Wildflower Soul” lyrics by Moore 9:04
  4. “Hoarfrost” lyrics by Ranaldo 5:01
  5. “French Tickler” lyrics by Gordon 4:52
    7. “Hits of Sunshine (For Allen Ginsberg)” lyrics by Moore 11:05
    8. “Karen Koltrane” lyrics by Ranaldo 9:20
    9. “The Ineffable Me” lyrics by Moore 5:21
    10. “Snare, Girl” lyrics by Moore 6:38
    11. “Heather Angel” lyrics by Gordon 6:09
  • Thurston Moore – guitar, vocals, production
  • Kim Gordon – guitar (all tracks except 1, 2 and 7), bass (2, 7), vocals, production
  • Lee Ranaldo – guitar, vocals, production
  • Steve Shelley – drums, production

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