Review #358: Goo, Sonic Youth

Karla Clifton
2 min readMar 9, 2023

#358: Goo, Sonic Youth

Three hundred and fifty albums in, the albums that get me excited are fewer and farther between. But I can still get excited about Sonic Youth! I was constantly playing Daydream Nation when I was sixteen, and Goo was the album they released next (though they took some time off to record a Madonna tribute album as Ciccone Youth, called The Whitey Album). Goo was the first album they released on a major label. As with many punk-to-major bands, this caused some turbulence — they went through multiple producers, including J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. (Major label power must have also funded a shit ton of music videos for this, because every single song has one.)

Goo has everything you want from a Sonic Youth album — a heady mix of mud sludge dreaminess (“Dirty Boots,” “Mote,” “Disappearer”) and high concept noise rock (“Mary Christ,” “Mildred Pierce,” “Scooter And Jinx”). It isn’t as grand or sweeping as Daydream Nation. That said, it does surpass it in one important way: Kim freaking Gordon.

Kim Gordon wrote some songs for DD, but she a bit more for Goo. And her contributions are the best part of it. “Tunic (Song for Karen)” is her dark, dreamy ode to Karen Carpenter, and “My Friend Goo” is the best song ever about snarky, vacant grunge girls. All the boys say “Hey Goo, what’s new?”/ My friend Goo just says “P.U.!” Oh, to be Goo. “Cinderella’s Big Score,” about her schizophrenic brother, is similarly great.

Her masterpiece, and the album’s piece de resistance, is “Kool Thing.” This is her horror-movie-guitar takedown of a misogynistic dude who wants to get with her, but not before she asks, Are you gonna liberate us girls from male white corporate oppression?

Gordon sounds like a badass, and it turns out this song has a badass story behind it. Gordon did an interview of LL Cool J (who’s mama told me to knock you out) for Spin Magazine. Disappointlingly, Cool J spouted some pretty stupid sound bites. Like “The guy has to have control over his woman,” and that intelligent women are “cliche.” Honestly, the fact that Gordon doesn’t lose her cool gives me such respect for her. She doesn’t even shade him in her article. Instead she wrote a cutting tune about it, and even got Chuck D of Public Enemy to hype her up on the song, which is a major power move.

Kim Gordon is one of my musical heroes, next to Patti Smith and Lady Gaga, and Thurston Moore is a drip for cheating on her. Actually, I take it back — he’s a Kool Thing.

Best Moore/Gordon Collab: “Titanium Expose.” Sugar babe, sugar babe/ Can’t you see me?

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