Release Date: Jul 21, 1992
Genres: American Underground, Noise-Rock, College Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Experimental, Indie Rock, Experimental Rock, Grunge
Number Of Tracks: 15
It's a beautifully paced disc exploding with beatific beats, white-noise assaults and great, grungy pop.
Strat_Monkey, on october 12, 2006 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: This was Sonic Youth's second album after signing to Geffen records. It's generally pretty awesome, with the band exploring their usual use of unusual tunings and general background noise to create unique soundscapes. Album opener '100%' (also the first single release from this album) starts with a blast of feedback/noise played with a guitar slide, before the thumping Ab power chord which drives the verse, with the noise continuing underneath, and pretty much sets the feel for the rest of the album. Vocal duties are as always shared by Thurston Moore (guitars) and his wife Kim Gordon (bass). The songs are split equally between Moore's smooth, fairly deep voice, and Gordon's growled, often barely intelligible vocals, with them each taking seven tracks. I have no idea who's singing on Track 10, Nic Fit, but it's neither of them. Might be Lee Ranaldo (guitars). While Thurston's voice is obviously the more accessible, mainstream one, any female listeners (and a few male listeners) will be pleased to hear a woman singing with a bit of aggression on Kim's tracks. The overall sound is, as you'd expect from Sonic Youth, unlike most of what you hear, but acessible nonetheless, which is a neat trick. Mostly the album is punk and hardcore influenced, although the sound's not limited to these styles, with 'Purr', for example, has an almost classic rock style riff. Also, some tracks like 'there'sa's Sound World' and 'Wish Fulfillment' have clean picked riffs in a style which is pretty rare in punk. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics seem pretty good. They're quite dark in places (two tracks, '100%' and 'J.C.' deal with the fatal shooting of one of the group's roadies), but far brighter in others, like on 'Sugar Kane'. They pretty much take in a lot of subjects, from death (as mentioned above), love (On 'Sugar Kane' and also, in a darker vein, on 'Wish Fulfillment'), to politics ('Youth Against Fascism'). The lyrics on Gordon's songs seem, on the whole, to be better than those on Moore's. However, I can't understand half of what she says, so they might not be that great overall! The lyrics are pretty good, usually avoiding cliches and so on. // 7
Overall Impression: This is the first Sonic Youth album I actually bought, though I've heard a fair bit of their other stuff. On the basis of this album, I'm buying all their others as soon as I have the cash. My favourite song is probably 'Wish Fulfillment'; I love the juxtaposition of the clean picked riff over background feedback noise, which then whips into the heavier pre-chorus/bridge, before the still heavy but more melodic main chorus. It's just awesome! The lyrics are good too, and, expecially, in the main chorus bit, fit the music perfectly. All the songs are pretty damn good; although 'Nic Fit' is a bit weird, it's too unobtrusive to worry me much. If it was lost or stolen, I'd probably just copy it off my computer, so no wories there. Anyway, overall, good stuff. I can't compare it to the band's other albums, not having heard them, but if they're all as good as this the they're an amazing band. // 9
DazzaSchwings, on february 04, 2009 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: It was 1992. Oh the flannel! Oh the greasy hair! Oh the memories! And the Sonics were there at the start of it all: first with Dinosaur Jr, then Mudhoney, and finally that infamous Seattle trio. Touring with these heavy guitar bands had a significant impact on the recording process, and it is not surprising that Dirty sounds far heavier than anything Sonic Youth have done. Unfortunately this seems to encumber the record more than anything. Sure, Sonic Youth have always been noisy, but thick and heavy like Smashing Pumpkins? I'm not so sure.
There are two genuine problems with this record. Firstly, most of the songs fit into two categories: upbeat Thurston Moore indie rockers and angry Kim Gordon Riot Grrrl rants. The album does a good job of alternating between the two styles making it less monotonous to sit though than one might think, if somewhat predictable. This limited categorization also serves to highlight the similarities between otherwise good songs, making the record seem uninspired rather than cohesive. The other real problem with Dirty is the sound. The strength of Goo was in the crystalline production values: finally the home listener was actually able to hear all of the crazy guitar noises that are such an integral part of this band. Dirty, on the other hand, sounds thick, muddy and chunky. Whilst this sort of works for heavier songs like Drunken Butterfly and Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit, prettier songs like there'sa's Sound World and On the Strip just end up sounding ham-fisted. That and all the noise sections mostly just sound crap because Butch Vig makes them all sound chunky and thick. // 7
Lyrics: Some of the songwriting on Dirty also just isn't up to par. Youth Against Fascism is boring, Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit is annoying, and despite being initially mesmorising, there'sa's Sound World is far too long. Purr is also something of a throw-away song, the only saving grace being the cool slow noise part. There is also the problem of too many songs sounding too similar that I touched on before. Sugar Kane and Chapel Hill are great songs, but they could almost be the same song. However, despite my bitching, there are some fantastic songs here. Lee Ranaldo offers an absolute gem of a power-pop song in Wish Fulfillment, Drunken Butterfly and Swimsuit Issue are great super-angry Kim songs, and the pretty lead guitar part in the chorus of Sugar Kane is perfect. On the Strip is also absolutely gorgeous. The standout track is semi-eulogy track JC, a homage to then-recently murdered Black Flag and Rollins roadie Joe Cole. A classic post-punk song, JC is an great example of Sonic Youth's strength: turning feedback, guitar noise, and distortion into something of sad and quieting beauty. Kim Gordon's vocal even sounds motherly. It makes 100% (a song focusing on the same subject) sound rather insincere by comparison. Though that could just be because Thurston cockily shouts the lyrics. // 6
Overall Impression: Though I would hasten to call Dirty essential listening or even essential Sonic Youth, there are some great songs on here. The biggest setback for this record is the thick murky, production. Though Butch Vig did wonders for Billy Corgan, his style makes Sonic Youth sound far less penetrating overall. It does work, though, for the heavier tracks on the record though. This one probably isn't for Nickelback fans though. // 7