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Confusion Is Sex (Plus Kill Yr. Idols)

Sonic Youth

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Album Review

Abrasive and archaic, theatrical and confrontational, Confusion Is Sex marks the opening strides that Sonic Youth made during their long slog through the American underground scene of the '80s. And yes, this album is underground if anything; it's lo-fi to the point of tonal drabness, as the instruments seem to ring out in only one tone, that of screechy noise. Yet that tone in itself is part of the album's style, which is one of antithesis. The album isn't comprised of songs but rather soundscapes, while the instruments are your traditional guitar-bass-drums-vocals lineup but are performed most untraditionally. Taken as a whole, Confusion Is Sex is a spellbinding listen, especially the first time through. If you're a bona fide Sonic Youth fan, chances are you'll find it especially spellbinding — the more of the band's albums you've heard, the better. However, if you're unfamiliar with the band, or a casual fan at most, chances are you're going to be thoroughly tested: this is not an easy album to enjoy. As inaccessible as it may be, however, Confusion Is Sex is a cornerstone of Sonic Youth's career, their true opening salvo toward underground heroism, though miles and miles away from such highly regarded albums as Daydream Nation (1988) or Dirty (1992). [DGC's reissue appends the Kill Yr. Idols EP, which is very much a continuation of Confusion Is Sex, and an excellent one at that.]

Biography

Formed: 1981 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Sonic Youth were one of the most unlikely success stories of underground American rock in the '80s. Where contemporaries R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü were fairly conventional in terms of song structure and melody, Sonic Youth began their career by abandoning any pretense of traditional rock & roll conventions. Borrowing heavily from the free-form noise experimentalism of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and melding it with a performance art aesthetic borrowed from the New York post-punk avant-garde,...
Full bio

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