Sonic Youth : Murray Street
...pretty and rather ineffectual halfway-house of an album...
The omens are not good. Described as an “operetta of place”, involving such punk rock instruments as the dilruba and sarangi, and featuring, for the first time in a fully collaborative role, Jim O’Rourke – who splits his time between off-kilter pop genius and head-wrecking electronica – ‘Murray Street’ (part of a trilogy exploring Lower Manhattan’s cultural history) sounds, on paper, like pompous, unlistenable toss.
Ironically, far from being an aural endurance test, ‘Murray Street’, is a pretty and rather ineffectual halfway-house of an album, wherein some not-very-strong songs leave you gagging for more obtuse noise. Part gunmetal grey pop-song, part experimental odyssey, ‘Karen’ is one of four tracks that get the balance and definition right, but, overall, SY fail to get into their groove between twisted, brutalised melody and spastic six-string experimentalism.