Sonic Youth NYC Ghosts & Flowers

Just as they braved the interface between jazz and noise-core, Sonic Youth remains one of those fertile cul de sacs in NYC's sonic landscape. They've always been as punk as iconoclastic art-rockers can get, stoically piling on the waves of white noise and feedback, refusing the commercial lure that seemed to beckon, always beyond the hype that typecast them as part of the year that punk broke. The irony is that they survived, but it does give this current project an air of retrospection, most evident in the Nirvana referencing of "Nevermind (What Was It Anyway)." Kim Gordon delivers the lyrics as deadpan and ashen as only she can be. "Renegade Princess" is as predictable as Thurston Moore's perpetual adolescence, but at the heart of this band's music are those abrasive waves of feedback, the shredded layers and lyricism of the title track. Coupled with Lee Renaldo's laconic beat poetry, you realise that the second half of this project fulfils the latent promise first evident when Kim Gordon recited "Pacific Coast Highway" on the classic 1987 SST release, Sister. The Youth may have gone full circle, baby, but the performance art that results has been well worth the wait. What seems to begin as a predictable exercise in noisy nostalgia is transformed by the end into a provocative cross-pollination between the cadences of beat poetry and the master improvisers of white noise. The result is a sense of fresh energy and new directions. Ultimately, you discover that these flowers and ghosts are radiant with life. (Geffen)