ALBUM REVIEW: No Home Record by Kim Gordon

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WRITTEN BY: Alex Wiesner

It’s been 8 years since the dissolution of the guitar-warping, noise positive institution that was Sonic Youth. During their thirty-year run, the band forgoed any absolutist musical methodologies in favor of an open-ended, try-anything approach that championed an endless stream of growth and fresh experimentation. Perfection (whatever that means) was never a goal; mistakes were made, but as long as they were outnumbered by cathartic moments where entropic, earthy noise and melody amalgamated to a synergistic effect, nobody cared. The band’s various incarnations have ranged from that of self-serious students of Lower East side music-deconstruction to kitschy noise-glam-rockers in the vein of Royal Trux (and everything in between). While all four core members continue to put out music, this spirit of reinvention, or eternal sonic youth if you will, has been missing in recent years. Thurston Moore has symbolically retired to the safety of his now academic appraised no-wave roots, and Steve Shelley joins in. Lee Ranaldo is not far off in his own head-assery, verbally pleasuring himself with Ginsberg-esque spoken passages, accompanied by other tired art-rock tropes. 

This leaves the subject of this review as our one exception. On her solo debut, Kim Gordon has mostly ditched her bass, opting instead for a foray into bleak, contemporary sonics and cryptic lyrical commentary. This album could have easily been a gimmick, a bold one-off oddity by an aging indie-rocker. But Gordon has never been one to make a statement without fully believing in it. No Home Record is calculated and precise. The album’s influences are eclectic, including forays into glitchy Ableton noise, trap, and Nine Inch Nails throwback industrial, but they all fit seamlessly into the album’s dystopian, monochromatic mold. Gordon’s idiosyncratic vocals are simultaneously frail and intense, evocative of back-of-your-head unease, while the lyrical themes revolve around a general suspicion towards consumer-culture complacency. The track “Murdered Out” sounds like a collaboration between Trent Reznor and Steve Albini, managing to balance a pentatonic bass riff and sheets of searing, factory-noise guitar into an unlikely groove. On “Paprika Pony,” Gordon achieves what many recent artists have failed to do in their risky (often cringe-inducing) incorporation of trap elements. Less concerned with a soulless homage to invoke a stale sense of “newness” (looking at you, Panda Bear!), the song uses the genre’s characteristic lofi, clipped hi hat roles and cold, isolated software instruments to its chilling advantage. 

This is not to say the album is devoted to the 2010’s sonic zeitgeist. Besides “Murdered Out,” a few other tracks also have traces of the early days, including a few DNA-esque frequency-cluster guitar freakouts here and there. Gordon defines her limitations as the periphery her vision (as opposed to the instruments she typically plays) in an effort that is the only truly contemporary reinvention of the Sonic Youth aesthetic. While Thurston and Lee will inevitably run out of unconventional guitar tunings to noodle around in, Gordon has given that deceased horse its peace and is on to greener pastures. 

Rating: 8/10

Track list:

  1. Sketch Artist
  2. Air BnB
  3. Paprika Pony
  4. Murdered Out
  5. Don’t Play It
  6. Cookie Butter
  7. Hungry Baby
  8. Earthquake
  9. Get Yr Life Back

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One thought on “ALBUM REVIEW: No Home Record by Kim Gordon

  • Oct 18, 2019 at 5:25 pm
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    Great review. Kim gordon made an album and you wrote a great review!!!

    Reply

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