Sonic Youth: A Six-Minute Ode To Britney : NPR
Sonic Youth: A Six-Minute Ode To Britney
- Song: "Malibu Gas Station"
- Artist: Sonic Youth
- CD: The Eternal
- Genre: Rock
August 13, 2009 - Sonic Youth's "Malibu Gas Station" is almost certainly the greatest six-minute opus ever written about Britney Spears. That's assuming, of course, that the song is
about Spears, an idea supported by lines that seem to refer to her
childhood performing career and recent erratic behavior. There's also
the guffaw-worthy song title — a Malibu resident, Spears has been
famously photographed walking barefoot from a gas-station bathroom — as
well as Sonic Youth's own description of the song as "an ode to the
flash moment of the camera as you knowingly step from your SUV sans
Singer-guitarist Thurston Moore says that The Eternal,
the noise-rock demi-gods' 16th album, focuses on "avant-garde rock 'n'
roll." Like most songs on the album, the somewhat avant-sounding
"Malibu Gas Station" doesn't exactly come up and give you a kiss, but
it can certainly get under the skin. Kim Gordon dispenses a simple but
memorable minor-key melody, and if Spears is the subject, it wouldn't
be the first time Gordon has gotten inside the head of a troubled
female pop star: 1990's creepy "Tunic (Song for Karen)" was partly
written from the perspective of anorexia casualty Karen Carpenter.
Here, lyrics like "The breasts are bangin' / Abdominal master" sound
Britney-esque, though in Gordon's wicked purr, they're more eerie than
Elsewhere, this is Sonic Youth at its most sleekly
propulsive. The main groove is all minimalist forward-motion, with
drummer Steve Shelley, who's increasingly been a force at recent SY
live shows, playing an austere tom-tom beat. The wandering guitar lead
around the three-minute mark makes for a somewhat conventional — and,
therefore, not very Sonic Youth-y — solo. Much more satisfying is the
grumbling noise jam near the song's end, as well as the spate of fluid,
sexy guitar spills mixed throughout. Both of those elements are,
happily, very Sonic Youth-y.