It's hard to hate an album when the hottest bassist in rock history tells her daughter "you keep me coming home again" while Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo tightly wind the baby's stationary with deft riffs, classic Sonic Youth guitar atmospherics and drums that rumble and subdue with ease.
But this album isn't just baby pictures' "Rather Ripped" finds the members of SY distilling their noise-rock experimentation, iconoclast humor and general merrymaking into a lovely record that's better and more urgent than "Sonic Nurse."
This is a complete balance of good taste, gentle noise, beating harmonics and melodic lingering that has inspired decades of work from Pearl Jam to Slint. At this point, there are plenty of smiles to be had, whether Ranaldo's down-tuned "Rats" rocks out or Moore crafts a hallmark ballad with "Do You Believe in Rapture?" wrapped in dissonant musings and tender vocals.
- Danny Marroquin