With his day job in Sonic Youth on indefinite hold due to Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore’s break up, Lee Ranaldo steps up to the plate with his ninth solo effort. The more experimental of the songwriting trio, it’s testament to his avant-garde previous LPs that Matador have billed this as “his first song-based album”. But, whether or not he’s been stockpiling these songs over the years, maybe he should have turned conventional a long time ago.
This is Ranaldo’s most commercially pleasing work since the Youth’s 1992 opus ‘Dirty’, and has the structure of ‘Rather Ripped’. ‘Off the Wall’ is an enjoyable blast of power pop, with Ranaldo’s grizzled, half-sung delivery complimenting the up-tempo chorus. Meanwhile, he does his best Stipe impression on the sterling ‘Plane T Nice’, all backed up by members of cult rockers Wilco and Jim O’Rourke. It’s surprising that Ranaldo is capable of making such straightforward, un-abrasive pop rock, reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub, and the closing ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ has the majesty of The Beatles, and not even when they’re experimental.
Between the Cribs guest appearances and occasional gigs, Ranaldo is keeping the creative juices flowing, and in an impressive fashion. Those who found Sonic Youth’s more ‘arty’ sides of art rock a little distasteful will find much to enjoy in ‘Between the Times and the Tides’. His band’s future may be in jeopardy, but by writing songs rather than “pieces”, his solo career has renewed vigour.
About Samuel Lambeth
Listening to music is my favourite pass time, and I enjoy listening to new, up and coming releases as well as classic records. My favourite bands are varied and long but include Ocean Colour Scene, Vampire Weekend, The Beatles, R.E.M., The Bluetones, Buffalo Tom, to new bands such as Yuck, Surfer Blood, Brother and The Vaccines.