The Eternal

Sonic Youth, fresh from the clutches of Geffen Records, nod to the city, fellow artists, and pop culture through their longevity-cementing album The Eternal.

Sonic Youth just keeps getting better with age. On The Eternal, Youth’s first album since breaking from a 15-year contract with Geffen Records (which, despite the presence of corporate overlords, produced some of the foursome’s best studio work), the 28-year-old band sounds energized and inspired, returning to its No Wave roots. Written in Northampton, MA—where Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon have relocated—and recorded in New Jersey, The Eternal is nonetheless as noisy and urgent as New York gridlock. From the opening hardcore of “Sacred Trickster” to the walled dissonance of “Anti-Orgasm,” the album makes sonic odes to downtown roots, with hints of Dead C, MC5, and Krautrock favorite Neu! all at once. There are the requisite obscure references, too—this is, after all, a Sonic Youth album—with nods to ’60s model/activist Uschi Obermaier, French painter Yves Klein, and New York beat poetry within the first 10 minutes. Even Britney Spears is on Sonic Youth’s mind, with Gordon singing, “A tough cross to bear/Oops no underwear,” on “Malibu Gas Station.” There probably isn’t a hit single here, but new label Matador isn’t looking for another “Kool Thing” or “100%” anyway. The fact is, there’s not a bad track on The Eternal, which proves to be a solid set for a band that keeps churning them out, one youthful riff at a time.