1990, Music

Goo (1990) by Sonic Youth

Sometime between their earliest albums and Daydream Nation Sonic Youth learned how to write melodies and, as importantly, learned how to swing. (Obviously this happened gradually.) And that development is perhaps nowhere more apparent than on Goo, their most accessible album to date.
Sure, calling a Sonic Youth album ‘accessible’ is a relative thing, but it’s still the catchiest thing. There are multiple songs on the album that are as catchy as anything on Daydream Nation which was their catchiest album prior to this one.

But they still (mostly) have their edge, and there are a couple of tracks here that seem included in part to show that. These tracks are reminiscent of the noisiest Nirvana songs in the sense that they almost feel like they are there to show that the melodies that attract new (and most?) fans aren’t the only thing they’re doing. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad those tracks are here. But it does feel like a deliberate choice given the relative accessibility of the rest of the material.)

I gotta say that there is at least one track here I really don’t like (yet): “My Friend Goo”. I find it really annoying to a degree I can’t ever remember feeling about any other Sonic Youth song I’ve heard. Maybe I’ll feel differently in time but, at the moment, it’s the thing keeping me from giving this album higher marks.

Because, for the most part, this is a rather remarkable combination of their extremely unconventional tunings and melodies you can actually (almost?) hum. It’s easy to to see how critics familiar with their early tuneless music would be overwhelmed that they could ever produce something so (relatively) catchy. For me, it’s just not up to Daydream Nation, but I’ve also heard that record numerous times and this one is still new to me.


Read my reviews of music from 1990 or read all of my Sonic Youth reviews.

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