Sonic Youth

The Eternal (Matador)

Phases & Stages

Sonic Youth

The Eternal (Matador)

Sonic Youth's had very distinct mood swings through the decades – 1980s, noise; early 1990s, rock; the slowed-down melodies of the late 1990s; and the sonic slump that followed in the early Aughties. After nearly two decades on Geffen and three as a band, SY's first album for Matador settles the New York fivepiece nicely into its twilight years. There's a continuation of the muscular pop from 2006's Rather Ripped and a feeling of renewal, as if being free from the psychic torture of a major label has allowed them to embrace mainstream sound on their own terms. Right from Goo-era opener "Sacred Trickster," Kim Gordon says as much: "How's it feel to be a girl in a band? I don't quite understand. That's so quaint to hear." It wouldn't be an SY album without obscure references (Gregory Corso, a cover painting by John Fahey) or lyrics about sex, feminism, and celebrity ("Malibu Gas Station"). The Eternal is a name-dropping nod to the band's influences, something SY's hip factor has always allowed, though in 2009 it feels redundant. For the first time, however, Gordon, Thurston Moore, and sometimes even Lee Ranaldo sing in tandem ("Poison Arrow"), and their riffs have gotten thicker – more Stooges, less extended squall ("Antenna"). The three-guitar interplay, moderated by bassist Mark Ibold and Steve Shelley on drums, is confident if briefly indulgent ("Walkin Blue"), but Sonic Youth reigns in those tendencies for the most part, making The Eternal its most straightforward album yet.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Sonic Youth
ACL Live Shots
Sonic Youth

Audra Schroeder, Oct. 15, 2010

Film Yr Idols
Film Yr Idols
When Sonic Youth rocked Reno, seven high schoolers and their substitute teacher turned their cameras on

Marc Savlov, June 20, 2008

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Audra Schroeder
SXSW Interactive Conference Quick Cuts
The Signal & the Noise
Statistician Nate Silver on more data, more problems

March 15, 2013

SXSW Film Reviews: 'Kiss of the Damned'
Daily Reviews and Interviews

March 15, 2013


Sonic Youth

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle