Reports of Sonic Youth's demise are, hopefully, premature, but the band members have never been ones to sit around doing nothing.
This is guitarist Lee Ranaldo's ninth solo release but, instead of his usual experimental instrumentals, it's full of the solid melodic rock tunes that have sometimes gone unappreciated on the Youth's albums.
Ranaldo goes roaming across styles rather than sound effects, and there's a strong romantic streak beneath his depictions of urban bleakness.
The thrumming energy behind Waiting On a Dream, Xtina As I Knew Her and the more ambitious Lost stirs up separation, madness and painful memories, but Fire Island (Phases) heads to a comforting place via country rock and nostalgic 70s pop.
Shouts depicts the violent birth pangs of an urban wasteland, but the other side of Ranaldo's palette includes the gentle jangling uncertainty of Off the Wall, and he even goes acoustic for Hammer Blows and Stranded.
Best tracks: Xtina As I Knew Her, Lost
- Reviews by Nick Ward; CDs for review from Everyman, Nelson.
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