Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star review by Sonic Youth

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  • Released: May 3, 1994
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (12 votes)
Sonic Youth: Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star
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Sound — 8
Sonic Youth never ceases to amaze, and this album is no exception. Same Sonic Youth with the same bizarre guitar parts and the same bizarre lyrics, but this album has a few more entertaining hits for the non-listeners out there (and by non-listeners, I mean the people that aren't really into the legend Sonic Youth is and just looking for a good listen). Experimental Jet Set holds a few good toe-tappers, as well as a few songs you'll find yourself humming at odd times in the day. The first, and what I've find to be the most popular, is "Bull in the Heather". The song starts off with some trippy harmonics and comes in with a cathcy verse that dives into a bit of an interlude accented with a drum beat that makes you wanna bob your head. "Self-Obsessed and Sexxee" is the next casual listen that is reminiscent (in my opinion) to "No Queen Blues" off the Washing Machine Album. Very classic Thurston style, and definately one of the few you'll find yourself singing out loud in the shower later. This album succedes in not only, making it an easy and fun listen, but also being catchy without being cliche. A few odd moments you'll find will be the first song, which is an acoustic song. Not very common with Sonic Youth, but definately interesting. The album also ends off with a sort of lullabye sounding piece, "Sweet Shine", which delivers as something you can fall asleep to. Another interesting song is "Tokyo Eye". The whispering lyrics makes it seem a lot more mellow, and the pre-recorded crash symbol drumming biut they got going on there also makes it rather interesting. The whispering definately leads you to anticipate a louder sound towards the end, which does in fact come. Overall, the sound is actually a lot more inviting than some of the other albums, and is definately a good album to start with when first starting out with Sonic Youth. Definately catchy in my opinion, but well worth the agonizing pain of getting it stuck in your head. But some of the songs you'll find are either utter brilliance or unbearably annoying. Therefore, beware.

Lyrics — 9
One of the more significant songs lyrically is "Androgynous Mind". Seen as an anthem for transgenders, a cry out against homophobes that use religion as a reason to hate gays, and also seen as a tribute, again, to Kurt Cobain. It could be, possibly, all three. The screaming cries "hey hey are you gay? hey hey it's okay?" definately make you want to join in. Definately on of the better songs lyrically. Screaming Skull is another odd one, however, it has been commented that "Thurston wrote this song after visiting the SST Records Superstore on the Sunset Strip. SST was SY's former record label (and the Lemonheads' and Husker Du's) but the band and the label split acrimoniously when the Youth left for Geffen Records. SST used to be staunchly "indie" and resolutely against anything which smacked of corporate sellout or major label-ism, yet ended up opening a Virgin-type megastore in L.A. by the mid-90s and turning into a parody of "major label" terrors, without the big sales. To Sonic Youth, who were able to maintain their indepedence despite being on a major label, this must have been delicious poetic justice." Earlier in the album you hear "Bull in the Heather" which is another intereseting song. At first glance, it's clearly a love song. With further analysis, it seems slightly erotic, maybe a song about S&M, but the video displays a horse which has a little background to it. Apparently, there was a horse named "Bull in the Heather" that had about 29:1 chance of winning. And lord-behold it did. A lot of these songs, like almost all Sonic Youth songs, are definately at the listeners mercy. Depending on your perception, they can mean absolutely anything, and that is one of the wonderful things about Sonic Youth. The singing is, as almost always, something you could put in an experimental indie alternative music sing-along-song DVD, which therefore, makes all that more great.

Overall Impression — 9
Experimental Jet Set is definately a classic. One of my personal favorite albums. In fact I had to buy it twice because it had broken the first time and I was pretty upset for days afterwards. Of course it isn't the easiest albums to find, but it is well-worth it. For those of you trying to get others into the band, this album has a lot of good songs on it, and will deinfately attract some attention for those that have yet to hear of them. The guitars are amazing as always, the lyrics and vocals bizarre as always, but this album definately holds a little more to it. Probably because of its catchy interior and its seemingly instant hits. Any Sonic Youth fan, whether disciple or casual listener, should own this album.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    washingmachine
    Thanks. I love Sonic Youth. I'm always disapointed by the rubbish that gets reviewed and covered on this site. EJSTNS is a great record but Washing Machine is a classic.
    Whip It
    Don't know why most people think this is Sonic Youth's worst record? It's probably in my top three with EVOL and Sonic Nurse, I don't know how you could go past it. Amazing, Waist, In The Mind, Sweet Shine, Tokyo Eye, Skink okay I'll end up naming every song on the record but God such a good album.
    Nirvana00125
    I like this album because it's the only album to perfectly blend the sound of their first 3 albums, with the psychedelia of Sister and Daydream and the pop of Goo. Yes, they have better songs but this album is a perfect combination of everything they had done up to that point. I think it's one of their better albums(my top 3 are Daydream, Sister, and Sonic Nurse) and sure, it may not appeal to as many people as Goo or Screaming Fields did but it's still great.
    drgals
    Nirvana00125 wrote: I like this album because it's the only album to perfectly blend the sound of their first 3 albums, with the psychedelia of Sister and Daydream and the pop of Goo. Yes, they have better songs but this album is a perfect combination of everything they had done up to that point. I think it's one of their better albums(my top 3 are Daydream, Sister, and Sonic Nurse) and sure, it may not appeal to as many people as Goo or Screaming Fields did but it's still great.
    Actually, they had also released "Sonic Youth", "Confusion is Sex", "Bad Moon Rising" and "Evol" before the three that you mentioned. Even though EJSTNS is a good combination of certain aspects of the albums that you did mention, it doesn't vaguely resemble their first two albums, though you can really hear some BMR or Evol if you concentrate enough. Specifically Evol, since it's recorded over that master. The highlight of the album, at least for me, is that it is something different from what they had done before, as it is much quieter and dark, and in some moments it doesn't feel like a SY record, though the records that would follow it would keep some of the sound produced in this record. Therefore, EJSTNS could be seen as a transition into the mellower, more mature records that would be produced later.