Sonic Youth – Dirty (1992)
awesome autumn art by Sarca @ caughtmegaming
Autumn Colours Artist #5: Sonic Youth
Thanks to their less-than-appetizingly-named track, Orange Rolls, Angel’s Spit, Sonic Youth represents the final entry in the Autumn Colours Series!
When I think about Sonic Youth, I often think of a scene from Friends (Season 9, Episode 15) where Joey was auditioning for a play:
Joey: It’s for a play on a Broadway. And in a real theater…
Monica: Is it a good play?
Joey: It must be, because I read it and I didn’t understand a single word.
Now with a show like Friends, it’s easy to see the appeal.
The characters are attractive, the tone is upbeat, the comedy is accessible. Heck, there’s even a laugh track to help guide viewers to the desired reaction.
Such viewer-friendliness makes Friends a show that anyone could easily appreciate.
Paradoxically, that also makes it an easy show to hate.
When the public ‘gets’ something immediately, there are those who feel compelled to throw around words like obvious, or formulaic, to express their displeasure with such mass-consumed products.
If everyone likes it, it can’t be any good.
Then there’s Sonic Youth.
Few would accuse them of being too accessible (though I’m sure such contrarians exist).
The distortion tends to bury the melodies, the lyrics are never over-enunciated.
Such listener-unfriendliness makes Sonic Youth a band that could easily frustrate the masses.
Paradoxically, that also makes them critically immune.
If something is not instantly obvious, some might use words like visionary, or profound, to marvel at such an act.
If nobody gets them, it’s gotta be genius.
Then there’s me (neither mass-consumed nor critically immune).
Naturally I find Friends and Sonic Youth to be equals.
I appreciate each for what they offer.
Both peaked as they were approaching the midpoint of their respective careers (Friends in season 4 or 5/10, Sonic Youth around studio album 6 or 7/15).
Both understood what their audiences wanted and rarely missed the mark in terms of satisfying their respective target markets. Friends’ bulls-eye had a larger circumference so perhaps bonus marks are in order for Sonic Youth, having excelled at repeatedly hitting a smaller target.
Both have done an admirable job of maintaining brand loyalty, even decades removed from certain beloved episodes/releases.
And for non-die-hard-fans-yet-non-haters like myself, one could argue each went on longer than needed.
The same could be said about this particular release, Dirty.
If you love Sonic Youth, you already love Dirty.
If you don’t, this may not be the one to convert the non-believers.
But if you’d like to give it a go, give it a few gos.
Don’t be nervous if its charms aren’t immediately apparent, though don’t assume it must be charming just because the charms don’t appear immediately!
If you’re willing to put in the time, it may end up being your Season 4 of Friends.