We gave it a B+
From Kurt Cobain to Steve Albini, Sonic Youth have played with loads of way-hip musicians. But one they’ve missed is Roger McGuinn, ex-leader of folk-rock progenitors the Byrds. They really ought to, especially since the now-middle-aged Youth’s latest album sounds an awful lot like that band in places.
You think I’m joking? Well, just compare vintage Byrds tracks like ”Eight Miles High” to Rather Ripped‘s moodier extrapolations, like ”Turquoise Boy” and ”Reena,” both sung by bassist Kim Gordon. Dig the way SY’s oddly tuned guitars chirp and chime where they used to gnash and grind, and tell me you can’t practically smell the folkie aroma wafting like patchouli, imbuing the proceedings with a sweetly psychedelic vibe not unlike that found on the Byrds’ 1968 album The Notorious Byrd Brothers.
Sure, Thurston Moore and company can still knock out a noisy punk stomper when the mood strikes (”Sleepin’ Around”). But it’s the arresting delicacy of the quieter, dreamier tunes that’ll really rip up your emotions. We think McGuinn might like this stuff. And, hey: Now that auxiliary SY member and avant-garde composer Jim O’Rourke has split, there’s even an empty slot in the band for the ol’ Byrds man!