Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation: Deluxe Edition [Geffen, 2007]
Loosed on the world in 1988, Daydream Nation made alt-rock a life-force. Over two vinyl discs containing just fourteen titles, it fused Sonic Youth's displaced guitar tunings with tunes as hummable as the Beatles' or the Ramones'--a standard they've matched ever since, but never again with quite so much anthemic consistency. Today, Daydream Nation's evocation of sonic youths with talent to burn and nowhere to build a fire is clearly rooted in the specifics of a Manhattan bohemia since transformed by Internet money and real estate sharks. Post-irony, its confusion-as-sex seems almost innocent. But its tunings keep it honest and its anthems keep it thrilling. A terrific bonus disc compiles covers that do justice to the band's ambition--Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick," Neil Young's "Computer World," the Beatles' "Within You Without You"--and unearths live versions of every Daydream Nation song. These are rough, intense, welcome. But the studio versions are definitive, as dense as cluster bombs. "Your life is such a mess/Forget the past, and just say yes"? "You can buy some more and more and more and more"? As words, admissions of futility. Atop marshalled guitars, artistic war cries. [Rolling Stone: 5]