Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sonic Youth: Sonic Nurse [DGC, 2004]
They'd rather be Coleman Hawkins, but their long-term consistency recalls less august precedents--say the Shoes, fashioning perfect pop album after perfect pop album in Zion, Illinois. Difference is, the Shoes kept it up for what seemed an ungodly long time and still got bitter and old in the span it took these citizens of world bohemia to absorb Jim O'Rourke and continue the mature phase that began with Experimental Jet Set in 1994, just after they were a fixture and somewhat after they realized they'd never be stars. This unusually songful set is well up among their late good ones, its dissonances a lingua franca deployed less atmospherically than has been their recent practice. I like the lyric about the New Hampshire boys who live for Johnny Winter even if he's a no-show. Our heroes are so much more reliable than that. They can be Coleman Hawkins if they want. A-