Given that this is Sonic Youth's first album since the band's entire arsenal of guitars and effects pedals was stolen from a hotel parking lot last year, it's not unreasonable to hope that NYC Ghosts & Flowers might be the group's first listenable album in a decade. Stranger things have happened.
Even with new gear, Sonic Youth can still clang and grind. Producer Jim O'Rourke wisely plays up the group's soundscape potential, and on several occasions they sound more interesting than they have in years. Unfortunately, O'Rourke left the vocal mike plugged in, resulting in a series of unintentionally hilarious tone poems on New York life by Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. One of the rare moments that Kim Gordon's flat howling has been a welcome, not torturous, addition