Evelyn McDonnell
May 20, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B

After leading many younger acts, including Nirvana, to the major leagues and toying with a user-friendly sound on the group’s own last album, Dirty, Sonic Youth is reconsidering its direction. On Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (DGC), the New York noise-rockers sound self-conscious about their roles as pioneers, survivors, boosters, and talent scouts of the underground. Several songs dispense warnings and advice to artists moving from postpunk to mainstream-like ”Winner’s Blues,” an anomalous acoustic ballad about the pressures of fame. Other songs valiantly root for underdogs: an abused child in bassist-singer Kim Gordon’s ”Bone,” bashed gays in guitarist-singer Thurston Moore’s ”Androgynous Mind.”

Yet from its insider discourse to its feedback eruptions, the album sounds like an experiment in the static of stasis; the tampered guitars and tortured vocals mostly sputter over skittering beats. The band calls the album art- core, a fair tag-it’s conceptual but not compelling-for songs that never quite emerge from the sketch stage. For acolytes, it may be a welcome break, a chance to put recent career moves into theoretical perspective. For newcomers, though, the album is likely to just be a puzzle. B

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