Free Kitten Inherit

[Ecstatic Peace; 2008]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: experimental rock
Others: Anything in the Sonic Youth camp

Free Kitten, the collaborative effort of Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), Julie Cafritz (Pussy Galore, STP), and Yoshimi (Boredoms), began around the time Sonic Youth's Goo came out in 1992. Within five years, Free Kitten released three albums but then took a Portishead-like hiatus. And now in 2008, the trio returns with Inherit, a distinctly stronger endeavor than their 1997 album, Sentimental Education.

Now, if you were to guess what Inherit sounds like, what would you say? Perhaps like Sonic Youth? Perhaps guitar-driven with some experimentation? Would you guess Kim Gordon is probably singing with her psychedelic, sometimes whispery voice again? If you answered yes to these questions, you'd be right. Predictably, Free Kitten is very similar to many side projects released by the Sonic Youth camp. We should of course expect these ladies to have indelible sonic personalities by now (think how easy it is to recognize the all-too-familiar “guitar sound” produced from Kim's Fender guitars), but collaborations of this stature shouldn't be relegated to "Sonic Youth side project" status.

Inherit begins with “Elected Girl,” the song most guilty of being a lost Sonic Youth track, so much so that people will probably be saying “here we go again.” There is really nothing new on this song that one couldn’t get from Sonic Youth’s last three albums. The good news, however, is that “Surf’s Up,” the next track, shifts slightly to a new direction with its nice wah-wah-washed guitar contribution from J. Mascis. Yes, we have to hear Gordon’s whispery voice again, but it's actually okay. This could be the best track on Inherit. A couple other great songs to note are actually the shortest: “Roughshod” and “Bananas.” Since J. Mascis also plays drums on “Bananas,” maybe he should have appeared on more tracks. His presence is the one thing that pushes this project where it needs to go.

Ultimately, Inherit is neither a great nor terrible album. Although it certainly sounds like it was a hell of a lotta fun to record, I don't think even die-hard fans will get overly excited about it. It’s good for a few listens, but so are thousands of other records that come out every year. Had Gordon, Cafritz, and Yoshimi opened up to new possibilities (different pedals, more instruments, new structures, etc.), perhaps Inherit could have gone somewhere surprising. Instead, they opted to stick with what they know and have left little to pique our imagination. There is certainly enough talent here, but coming up with an end product that separates itself from becoming labeled as “just another Sonic Youth side project” is not what happened.

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