Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Sonic Nurse

Two decades-plus down the line, alt-rock elders make an even better album than usual.

So they're no longer youths, sonic or otherwise--we know that. At mid-career, their disruptive tunings are comfort food, absorbed by far younger alt-rock heirs, and only their large and supportive cult notices the excellent albums they generate every two years. Nevertheless and for whatever it's worth, Sonic Nurse is their most songful release sine the major-label hellos Goo and Dirty, and by most standards their best since 1988's pivotal Daydream Nation. Their tunings are now the stuff of hooks and the glue of their tunes, or at least riffs, which typically proceed for five or six minutes over Steve Shelley's deliberately funkless pulse, sometimes with noisefest appurtenances. Their lyrics are always worth attending--Mariah Carey is the latest diva to attract singer Kim Gordon's unsolicited advice--and never the point. Sonics are the point. Get it?

Blender, June/July 2004