New York City's Lower East Side has always attracted bohemian freaks looking to shock the world, but with EVOL (Love spelled backwards)--their third album after a live tape and several EPs--Sonic Youth finally figured a wa... more »y to make their skronk count. Combining alternate guitar tunings with nearly linear songwriting, SY proved they could harness their energy into a combustible engine. The multititled closer, "Expressway to Yr. Skull" (or "Madonna, Sean, and Me"), is pure apocalyptic beauty, while "Shadow of a Doubt" succeeds by being more subdued and suggestive. --Rob O'Connor« less
New York City's Lower East Side has always attracted bohemian freaks looking to shock the world, but with EVOL (Love spelled backwards)--their third album after a live tape and several EPs--Sonic Youth finally figured a way to make their skronk count. Combining alternate guitar tunings with nearly linear songwriting, SY proved they could harness their energy into a combustible engine. The multititled closer, "Expressway to Yr. Skull" (or "Madonna, Sean, and Me"), is pure apocalyptic beauty, while "Shadow of a Doubt" succeeds by being more subdued and suggestive. --Rob O'Connor
Teacher in Texas | Fredericksburg, TX USA | 01/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't own half of all the Sonic Youth recordings, and I don't pretend to catch all the hidden nuances and meanings lurking in this release. However, I must say that from what I've heard of SY so far, this is my favorite album. Though my favorite individual songs ('Washing Machine','Sweet Shine', etc.) are usually on other releases, this album is a sheer masterpiece on both the conceptual level and judging from pure enjoyment. It's taken me a while to piece together what Sonic Youth is actually up to in their music, but they seem to pull it off flawlessly here. Conceptually, this album is ingeniously constructed; combining the songform with the infamous noisey drones and chaotic bursts, sometimes several times in a single track, SY manages to form a sort of theme album that gives off the same dreamy vibes throughout its duration. The carefree-ness and unorthodoxy in terms of the audio image makes the album more of a work of art than a so-called 'rock CD' (which is largely why SY is considered art-rock, I assume). The melodic quality of the music here is superb. Unless they've got me totally fooled, SY wrote many of these songs using very subtle counterpoint and unconventional melodies that seem so dissonant at first that the listener is tempted to write it off from the start. 'Green Light' is a perfect example. One time, at the beginning few minutes of the song, my mom walked in and actually laughed and said 'In my day these guys would have never gotten a record deal'. Now, to be fair, she didn't have enough time to analyze it.. but my point remains the same. If listened to carefully, this song is actually quite lovely and emotionally expressive even though the notes seem to fight each other at every turn. This may be a fundamental observation, but I think the dissonant noise serves to cloak the beautiful undertow inherent in the music. Once you just surrender to the sound as a whole, you begin to see all the hidden beauty. About the songs themselves, almost all of them are winners. 'Shadow of a Doubt' and 'Star Power' are simply gorgeous. 'Secret Girl' has a nice chunk of noise and a piano with some eerie guitar screeches in the background, giving it that 'feel' that I'm trying so unsuccessfully to describe. The Sean Penn song, whichever title you prefer, is also brilliant as it builds to a blissful, climactic guitar tapestry. Even 'Bubblegum' is good :^). Anyway, I highly recommend it.. it is simply a work of art. Other SY releases also come highly recommended."
Sonic Youth's moody masterpiece
Scott Hedegard | Fayetteville, AR USA | 04/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Originally released on the wonderful SST label (check out the website), "Evol" was the first really definitive Sonic Youth album. From the ultra disturbing woman on the cover (Lung Leg, whoever that is, apparently from some indie film) to the music itself, we embark on a sonic journey through the nether regions of our minds. This is where nightmares dwell and resurface in the detuned guitars that howl, feedback, ring out and swirl about under and over the songs themselves. "Tom Violence" is somewhat subtle, at least as the CD opens (I don't think the track listing is correct), with the guitar noize waiting until near tracks' end to take us deep into audio alienation. A gruesome spoken word piece giving us details of a gory auto wreck, a piano playing a beautiful snippet and a storm of guitar feedback and dissonant tones that closes "Sean, Madonna and Me", or, alternately titled "Expressway To Yr Skull" give us a view of the dark side from a safe distance. Album owners of the original release may recall that at the end of "Expressway To Yr Skull", which closed the album, unlike "Bubblegum" that closes the CD, there is no outgroove to allow the needle to return to its stand. Thus, the drone continues on and on, sometimes nearly hypnotizing you before you realize what's going on. Can't do this with a binary code. A must have for SY fans."
Overflowing with emotion...
Jeff | 04/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not simply a "touching" album that suggests a mood. EVOL grips on from the very beginning, turns you upside down and immerses you in a somber, dark world that no other album can create. And it will keep you coming back for more and more.
The haunting guitars of the opener "Tom Violence" only hint at what is to come. "Shadow of a Doubt" is perhaps the best SY song with Gordon on vocals; her whisper backed by a sudden assault of noise sends chills up your spine. "In the Kingdom #19" (listen for Thurston throwing fireworks in the studio after one minute) and "Secret Girls" are abrasive, ethereal tracks that may take more than one listen to appreciate, but are among the band's best. The heralded closer "Expressway to Yr Skull (The Crucifixion of Sean Penn)" is an epic journey, beginning with Thurston's unforgettable cry "We're gonna kill the California girls," building to a frantic pace and then slowing down into a spacious wall of noise.
This is SY at their height lyrically. Daydream Nation may have more "masterpieces" of feedback but EVOL leaves more of an impression. Each song has its own way of leaving you breathless, and its clear that after the 39 minute adventure Sonic Youth has to be one of the greatest bands of our time, if ever. "
Sonic youth's best work in my opinion
K. Rowland | Atlanta, Georgia USA | 10/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i would like to say first off their is not a bad song on this cd, it is all mind tripping bliss. my favorite 2 songs being tom violence and marilyn moore with of course the masterpiece from this album expressway to yr. skull. i do own most of sonic youth's other stuff except work from 98-2003 but ive heard most of this, and i can also say that i think this is the most lyrically strong cd they have also. the two love songs on this cd star power and green light are just amazing they drew me in the first time i heard them sonic youth might be noise punk to the core but they can still make pretty songs. another thing i would like to say is i think this album is much better than daydream nation. if u talk 2 most sonic youth fans they will tell you daydream nation is the best cd but i totally disagree, i think this is musically lyrically and just all around superb to daydream nation. this was their height the prior realeases to this which were "confusioin is sex" and bad moon rising are amazing but arent for everyone.then the realeases prior 2 this are great also but i consider this their height. if u like sonic youth and u already have this cd and not much of the other stuff i would recommend sister which in my opinion was very close 2 this album in being my favorite i recommend washing machine also which goes against some of their medicore early 90's work like dirty and goo"
A matter of taste
aproductofsociety | 09/02/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This has been my first experience of Sonic Youth -- obviously very much after the fact but so what? Well, this is quite harsh and unrelenting stuff. I'm sure it's first rate in its genre, but I was put off by the consistently aggressive, discordant sound.
It's possible to admire some music without ever feeling the need to listen to it. For me, Evol is very much in that category. No doubt that makes me a philistine.
Meanwhile, look around this web page and you will see very little effort among the customer reviewers to provide a balanced critique of Evol. It's 5 stars, as usual, as far as the eye can see."