The "eternal" in the title of Sonic Youth's new album references a number of things: memories of creative luminaries, social problems that never seem to die and those things that make us human, like lust and rage. It also seems to be a statement about the eternal youth of the band, which has been making innovative noise for nearly 30 years yet sounds remarkably current with almost every new release - especially this one.
"Sacred Trickster" begins this statement with a jarring anti-melody and a driving rhythm that draws from protopunk, Krautrock and early No Wave simultaneously. The second track, "Anti-Orgasm," kicks the No Wave up a notch, with Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore trading vocals like dagger stabs, then joining forces for bits of chorus that are surprisingly catchy, even poppy. Moments of guitar pummeling, plus some clever use of a delay unit, top off the volcano they've built, sounding something like U2's the Edge might in the process of exploding. In "Leaky Lifeboat" and "Thunderclap," shout-outs to beat poets (Gregory Corso) and punk forebears (Bobby Pyn of the Germs) aren't just odes to dead idols but meditations on the destructive tendencies of our culture.
The two longest songs - the smoldering post-rock of "Antenna" and "Massage the History," filled with desperate, almost-whispered vocals and a lonesome guitar melody fit for a deconstructed cowboy - are perhaps the most stunning, taking on big topics such as memory, authorship and technology with a psychedelic touch that renders them both atomizing and atmospheric.