A decade after the release of their highly influential recording "Daydream Nation," Sonic Youth is still trying to capture that album's expansive juxtaposition of dissonant pop melodies and shimmering feedback dirges. Unfortunately, "A Thousand Leaves" finds them still chasing their '90s modus operandi: Recording a subpar album that contains only a few brilliant tracks.
The band's increasing use of bassist Kim Gordon on vocals doesn't help. Her deadpan delivery has never sounded so contrived and annoying -- like a whining goth kid that never grew up. In addition, many tracks are merely lengthy feedback collages with pasted-on vocals and gobs of art-school pretension.
But there are some hidden gems. The Velvet Underground-esque, feedback-drenched "Sunday" is among the band's best moments ever. "Wildflower Soul" also deserves a listen, but its nine-minute length could have used some editing. Sonic Youth can still generate exotic, detuned landscapes of sound. But they seem almost afraid to pursue new directions while flogging many old ideas to death.
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