US LP pressing on 180-gram vinyl. 'EVOL' was a major leap forward for Sonic Youth, but 'Sister' is a masterpiece, demonstrating the group's rapidly evolving musicality. More than ever before, Sonic Youth's songs sound like actual songs, and their collages of noise, distortion, and alternate tunings are now used to provide texture and depth to the music, which is original, complex, and rewarding. Not only is there the full-throttle roar of 'Tuff Gnarl,' but there are shimmering layers of ambient harmonics and dissonance that are as haunting and challenging as any of their barrages of feedback. Furthermore, 'Sister' has a warm sound, which lures the listeners into music that's defiantly arty but never indulgent.
Having successfully balanced atonal freak-outs with rock song structure on their previous release, EVOL
, Sonic Youth went further towards convention with this concise, "all rock" (their words) album. Recorded on old tube equipment instead of then-emerging digital technology, the album's 10 songs have an impressively warm, cozy vibe even as they tear up the pavement underneath. "(I Got a) Catholic Block," "Pacific Coast Highway," and a vicious cover of Crime's "Hot Wire My Heart" are propelled by the newfound power of drummer Steve Shelley, who doesn't let the band's arty self-consciousness inhibit the songs' natural drive. --Rob O'Connor