Sonic Youth has perfected the art of cool. Leave the tortured writhing and barking at the moon to Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. Rhythm may rumble and guitar riffs squeal all around them, but Sonic Youth's alternating vocalists—guitarist Thurston Moore and his wife, bassist Kim Gordon—rarely seem to break a sweat.
That disarming sangfroid is on display on the foursome's ninth album, which abandons the political ranting of 1992's Dirty for the more esoteric point of view of Youth's earlier work. Much of the credit this lime goes to Gordon, whose languid sensuality and breathless agitation can inject beauty into the most abrasive moments. That said, Jet doesn't look like the album that will push these perennial toasts of the underground to the top of the charts. The band excels more at crafting a remarkable sound than writing great songs, and with no 3½ minutes as catchy as hits by younger post-punkers—the Breeders' "Cannon-ball" for example—the underground is looking like Youth's permanent throne. (DGC)