Old Habits ...

Sonic Nurse (Geffen)
Sonic Youth

By John Bohannon

It's always a beautiful thing when a veteran bands stick to its roots, Sonic Youth's new album, Sonic Nurse, is no exception. It seems as if free-form experimental rock is making its way back through the emotion of this album. Going back to Daydream Nation with experimental jams and hard-hitting power chords, the Youth achieve equivalent if not improved auditory sensations. The band seems to capture the feeling of its live performances and those who have seen Sonic Youth live know that live performances are the best possible representations of this band.

After releasing Murray Street, it was said that the Youth finally "returned to form" but give an honest listen to Sonic Nurse and your mind will be flip-flopped in the other direction. Bassist Kim Gordon shines on this album by showing her presence much more than she has in the past. Her vocals are spine-tingling throughout the album and it reminds you how great it is to hear her many contributions.

"Pattern Recognition" sets the album off in the right direction, with a straightforward track headed by the infamous Gordon screaming, "You're the one!" It makes you feel as if ... well, you're the one. "Dripping Dream," a standout track on the album, recalls the renowned dirty melodies this band has come up with over the years. Now, for any Sonic Youth fan, you know you can't really go long without feeling some sort of attack towards a Bush. Yes, I speak of good ol' Georgie and his son G.W. Back "in the day" it was "Youth Against Fascism" off Daydream Nation that aimed the barrel towards Bush and today it leads into Sonic Nurse's "Peace Attack" and "Stones." This is a further representation that Sonic Youth is sticking with old habits.

"Unmade Bed" is just one of those mellow tracks you can see yourself bobbing along to in a small club. The melodic sense of it is very low key, as is the tempo. Speaking of low key, the main stand out on the album, "I Love You Golden Blue," recalls the vocal feel of older Gordon song "Drunken Butterfly." Not a bad thing by any means, but it could've gone without the two minutes of unnecessary feedback at the beginning. But hey, that's Sonic Youth for you.

Long-time listeners want nothing short of what they have come to expect and this is the perfect album for them. With Sonic Nurse, those expectations will be fulfilled with ease and a bit more may be in store.