1987: Sonic Youth - “Schizophrenia”

This is where Sonic Youth finally delivered on all the promise their early work hinted at. Don’t get me wrong, almost everything they did before their 1987 masterpiece Sister was pretty damn good, but the noise-pop gem “Schizophrenia” that kicks off the album is the band’s single greatest accomplishment. Sonic Youth had been experimenting with alternately tuned guitar workouts for years and they were no strangers to mutilating a pop song or two live, but “Schizophrenia” was the first instance where they injected an original “pop” — in the loosest sense of the word — composition with their own unique noisy jangle. The song begins with a simple drum figure and stays relatively tame and straightforward for the remainder of the verse. It’s only after Thurston’s singing stops that the band enters transcendental-jam mode and whisks listeners away. Lee and Thurston trade harmonic pings back and forth as Kim’s haunting chants lead the band into a dramatic swell. Then Lee and Thurston steal the show again with another guitar blitz before the song slows down and crawls to a creepy finish. I’ll go ahead and say it, this is probably my favorite song of all time. Late 80s Sonic Youth was forcing everyone to rethink the guitar’s role in pop songs — check out the excellent “Expressway to Yr. Skull” for further proof — and “Schizophrenia” is their most perfect statement from that era.

DeLorean

There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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