Once again displaying an uncanny ability to mix pop culture with the avant-garde, Sonic Youth conjure their earliest no wave days and their later experimental works on the soundtrack to the French teen thriller Simon Werner a Disparu.
Deluxe Edition 2 CD set features 35 tracks including b-sides and previously unreleased versions. Sonic Youth's second major-label album, produced and mixed by Butch Vig and Andy Wallace (a team that had helped turn Nirvana's NEVERMIND multi-platinum) was not the barefaced bid for mainstream acceptance that surly underground souls grumbled about in the pages of fanzines. While Vig and Wallace give guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, bassist Kim Gordon, and phenomenal drummer Steve Shelley a wide-screen panorama for their bizarrely-tuned assaults, DIRTY is probably Sonic Youth's most uncompromising album since 1985's BAD MOON RISING–particularly in the lyrical department. Dropping the deliberate obscurantism, Philip K. Dick references, and smart-alecky snottiness, Sonic Youth brackets a slew of pointed political attacks ("Youth Against Fascism," "Swimsuit Issue," and the Jesse Helms-bashing "Chapel Hill") with two passionate tributes to the band members' murdered friend, Joe Cole ("100%" and "JC"). That DIRTY is Sonic Youth's most commercial-sounding album makes it that much more subversive.
EVOL was a major leap forward for Sonic Youth, but Sister is a masterpiece, demonstrating the group's rapidly evolving musicality. It's one of the singular art rock records of the '80s, surpassed only by Sonic Youth's next album, Daydream Nation.–Almusic 5/5
After spending the 1980s terrorizing the underground alternative scene with their oddly tuned guitars and inventive song structure, this New York City art-punk band started the next decade with a major label deal and a determination to make rock loud and sexy for all concerned.
It's a solidly good album, and if taken as part of a trio of albums with Sonic Nurse and Murray Street, it shows that Sonic Youth is still in a comfortable yet creative groove, not a rut.
The album itself remains one of Sonic Youth's best balances of experimentalism and accessibility.