Sonic Youth review by Sonic Youth

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  • Released: Feb 28, 1982
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (4 votes)
Sonic Youth: Sonic Youth

Sound — 8
The self-titled debut EP by Sonic Youth brings some differences from their later works. The album features the band using standard tuning on their instruments, something very uncommon for Sonic Youth. This EP also clearly shows their No Wave influences. Kim Gordon's bass lines plays a major role in the songs here, as well, usually setting the ground for Thurston and Lee's cacophonic and noisy guitar playing, which would become the band's trademark since their early days. By the way, on this album, the band used the "prepared guitar" technique by putting screwdrivers between the fretboard and the strings, drastically changing the guitar's timbre and making the whole guitar layers even more dissonant. On later albums, they would put that behind in favor of their also trademark alternative tunings. Despite the compositions being the traditional Sonic Youth's noise tripping, I miss some of the guitar's loudness that would come in later releases. The guitar is somehow more "clean", but other than that I don't think I have any criticism regarding the sounding of this album and I'm glad they turned the fuzz on later. Also, Richard Edson plays the drums here. The band would replace him by Bob Bert just after the releasing of the album. His drumming is very dinamic and goes from simple, but strong beats to haunting tom rolls to match the noise being created by the rest of the band (examples: "I Don't Want To Push It" and "The Good And The Bad"). His percussion playing on the songs "She Is Not Alone" and "I Don't Want To Push It" is also very peculiar, going from smooth to absolutely insane.

Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, the album is way more simplistic than most of their releases, mostly being some few enigmatic lines repeating through the songs, like on "She Is Not Alone", which consists of only two lines being repeated over and over: "She is not alone/She is not alone today", and "I Dreamed I Dream", which contains words like "All the money's gone/The days we spent go on and on/f--king youth/Working youth". When it comes to the vocals, the album already shows the band's identity on this aspect, alternating between Thurston's crazy tone ("The Burning Spear", "I Don't Want To Push It") and Kim's whispering ("I Dreamed I Dream").

Overall Impression — 8
This EP shows a band finding their way through the experimenting of noise rock and no wave, and while the guitars lacks some of the "loudness" found on their later releases, like I've said before, this is still a solid record and incredibly cohesive for a debut album by a band trying out with so many kinds of sounding. It differs a bit from later stuff like "Goo" and "Daydream Nation" in some aspects like the punkish influence added to those albums, but this EP already gives the world a light on their musical identity. I'd highlight "I Dreamed I Dream" and "The Good And The Bad" as the best songs here, but for me, all the 5 tracks here are awesome. If it were stolen from me, lost, or anything, I would certainly buy it again.

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