Sonic Youth – Goo (1990)

For Generation X, droning sounds were good sounds. The train passing at night meant that order was restored, the Hoover vacuum passing the doorway meant that a parent was home and somewhat engaged, and the relentless churn of machinery meant that the order that was would not collapse quite yet.

Goo is an album of drone. The first track sounds like a home-cleaning adventure, the second a confession to a psychotherapist, and the rest other sounds of the city and breakdown trying to rationalize themselves. In this album, there is no victory, only a soft pillow designed to receive defeat and stylize it as victory.

At the heart of each of these songs is a television commercial or pop song, a simple melodic/rhythmic hook, and then zero development. The verse provides a counterpoint that kills the energy except for the rhythm, and then the chorus takes the rhythm into melody and a charismatic vocal, but other than that, nothing emerges from this. Like the dying Western Civilization, it is a heath death ash dead end.

Not surprisingly, critics love this album. Having no better claim to importance in life than offering opinions, and doing so in defense of mainstream values that appeal to the broadest majority instead of the intelligent and good, critics adore anything which makes their trash-laden empty lifestyle seem like it is important.

But really, this album is the artistic equivalent of Britney Spears, the Black-Eyed Peas, or Taylor Swift. The hook is in the chorus and the verses are people ranting at you in hip voices, like an updated version of the loudspeakers outside Party meetings. The songs go nowhere. Aesthetic replaces substance, just as it did in the commercial mall culture of the 1980s.

In short: everyone you know will praise this album, but it is a dead end. Escape if you value your ability to think, or just like reality more than human drama dressed up as profundity. In the background, on that 1980s Realistic stereo, this album drones on without any hope of making a point.

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25 thoughts on “Sonic Youth – Goo (1990)”

  1. Incessant Ballerism says:

    Can u do “The Daydream Nation” next?

    It sounds like Arcade Fire covering New Order.

  2. national geographic nipples says:

    NICE opening paragraph. We messed you Brett!

    1. Enda Miller says:

      Actually it is overly simple in my opinion. The logic here is:

      Sonic Youth is vapid Drony Music,
      Generation X likes vapid Drony noises
      Generation X likes Sonic Youth because they like vapid drony noises.


      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        The original reasoning was almost certainly backwards: It started with classifying the Sonic Youth ‘psychdelic pop’ as ‘drony’, whatever this is supposed to mean (‘A drone’ is a musical figure built from repeating a single note or a simple pattern. That’s not prevalent in the first track) and bends that back into one of the common topics the author likes to employ.

        But the music is really just a poor men’s top-fourtified copy of something like this,

        not something particulary “generation xy”, which sold because it was fashioned after an established, known-to-be commercially successful in “alternative culture” pattern.

  3. GGALLIN1776 says:

    Is jagged little pill next?

    1. Enda Miller says:

      Is that a new kind of pill? Ive done the red pill, and I get a few white pills here or there, but a jagged little pill? What kind of pill is that?

    2. Psychic Psych Toad says:

      That would be ironic, don’t ya think?

  4. Claudia Roth says:

    This review kind of sounds like Brett used to like this band and now berates his past self.

    1. I Am The Black Men says:

      Self-loathing is the foundation and substance of his work in all of its iterations.

    2. Rainer Weikusat says:

      Pseudo-psychoanalyzing the author of some text always just brings up information about the person making the attempt. Why not look at the recurring topics in this instead?

      There’s almost always a suggestion that things seemed better in some unworthy way in the not-too-distant past, a declaration of no longer fooling oneself and fairly vague “Be afraid! Be very afraid!” statements about the future. This is framed as terminal fact because such-and-such an abstract thing ‘died’. There’s an echo of »Der Tolle Mensch« (»The Madman«) in here as that’s the same idea that mankind somehow killed something which was fundamental to its own society but still keeps on going through the now idle motions for some more time because hasn’t realized this death yet. The wording etc usually also instills a feeling of depression or more the onset of one: A feeling of terrible sadness which will end up drowning everyhing else and last forever is on the horizon.

      Any professional writer worth his salt should be capable of composing something like this laughing, ie, this doesn’t necessarily imply anything about the state-of-mind of the author.

    3. Enda Miller says:

      The only past Brett berates is his Irish past.

  5. 0011971 says:

    Sonic Youth were art scene posers and scene tourists from the very start. They always managed to rip off more interesting groups (Mission of Burma, Chrome, etc) or associate with people like the Minutemen or various hardcore bands of the time for credibility. As Joe Carducci of SST Records said about theme when he initially rejected signing the band, “record nerds shouldn’t form bands”. They represented the degredation of the American 80s underground into something more tangible that the mainstream could suck on.

  6. Honest Question says:

    Can u do coldplay next thnks

  7. Nom de plume says:

    “…and the relentless churn of machinery meant that the order that was would not collapse quite yet.”

  8. I Am The Black Men says:

    Bro you forgot to mention Trumperor. MAGA bitches!

    1. S.C. says:

      Trump is gay and his very existence, let alone presidency, is slanderous to proud white elite everywhere.

  9. Rainer Weikusat says:

    I wouldn’t subscribe to the ‘droning’, there’s just a lot of fuzz in the bass. But this (the first track of Goo) is certainly the ultimate rehash of US psychedelic west coast rock into a reassuringly irrelevant pop song carefully designed to steer around everything listeners might otherwise have to pay attention to in favour of a pleasant and steady background drip of slight melancholia, just enough to suggest a meaning intentionally omitted as
    meanings are tedious and would disrupt the idle harmony. The stolen John Cipollina licks are really the only musically interesting thing in this (exactly two of them, and fairly short ones).

  10. lil yachty says:

    Hey Brett, are you into weightlifting? It changed my life, and made me more masculine. You should write on this stuff. Start with Old time Strongmen (google exactly as I typed it).

    1. brett-hating anal historian says:

      There was an article on “the old site” about how he would take mushrooms and go for runs. So yeah. Brett is probs a cardiofag, if he still does any physical activity at all. Always thought it was funny how he never mentions physical ability when he’s preaching about the ubermensch.

  11. national geographic nipples says:

    does anyone else get aggressive douche chills from the cover art? I’m committing to calling it the worst cover art ever, for me personally

    1. I Am The Black Men says:

      You’re not the only one

  12. desu metal says:

    Reviewer pretending like he’s too naturally sincere to apprehend the ironic position that SY took on music in the era Goo was released… is ironic…

    1. national geographic nipples says:

      You sound like a fag

    2. I'm black says:

      Da hell dat mean?

  13. canadaspaceman says:

    I semi-enjoyed this album when released, and still sort of since then. By that time, had forgotten about psychedelic rock, after 6 years of listening to mostly metal (and hardcore), so it was something different that was needed.
    The review is a little wrong though, as there was NOT much “pop” to the Goo album, and that pop/rock element was the best thing about it.
    Would you want a memorable hook or meandering jizz jazz?

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