Sonic Youth

The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities

The Destroyed Room looks like overkill at first, arriving at the end of a year when Sonic Youth reissued out-of-print pages from its '80s catalogue (Sonic Youth EP and, under the Material Girl-mocking nom-de-plume Ciccone Youth, The Whitey Album) and turned in a pretty-pearl new album (Rather Ripped) and a barely advertised 7-inch single ("Helen Lundeberg"). Presumably, the NYC avant-whatever quartet's restoration project — remastering and repackaging old stuff with covers, B-sides and alternate takes glued on — will continue unabated, so why bother corralling and penning these '90s and '00s strays?

Seems they're onto something. Kim Gordon sings acoustic tweed scrap "Razor Blade," but her voice registers as a desiccated husk that's almost irrelevant. A supersized "Diamond Sea" aside, the rest is pro forma-yet-transfixingly instrumental: from the too-many-guitars, sweet 'n' sour mass-cramp of "Fire Engine Dream" to the shattering post-rock labyrinth of "Kim's Chords," The Destroyed Room shines. 4 stars