This is the 19th album from what must be one of the most influential "alternative" bands of the last 20 years, Sonic Youth. Musically they have taken a turn towards more conventional rock music. The singer Thurston Moore was apparently inspired to start writing the album after seeing rock band Aerosmith play in New York.
So the songs are shorter and more classic rock than on previous albums. But their sound is still clearly Sonic Youth, with all the accompanying strange lyrics and mushy riffs. Sonic Nurse is a good album that takes up political issues.
Women's oppression has always been a theme, and this album is no exception. "I was kind of obsessed with Mariah Carey at the time of making the record," Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon said in a recent interview, talking about what a good example the singer is of how women are expected to use their sexuality to sell things. Some people call it empowerment. I call it corporate-engineered self exploitation."
Sonic Youth have been involved in the anti-war movement in the US. They co-launched a website, www.protest-records.com, which "exists for musicians, poets and artists to express love and liberty in the face of greed, sexism, racism, hate crime and war".
They've always been an anti-corporate band, and on this album their ire is directed at Bush in a couple of tracks. "Peace Attack" came from Moore's annoyance at how Bush uses the word "peace" all the time. Moore says, "He was calling it 'the peace'. Y'know, 'We're working for the peace,' like peace is some kind of commodity."
"Paper Cup Exit" laments the atmosphere of fear and untruth in the US today. As Moore sings, "A sea change is due."