The Eternal

  • Record Label: Matador
  • Release Date: Jun 9, 2009

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. The music remains ageless and weird, fueled on chaos and clarity, but these are songs, not sound experiments for their own sake.
  2. Ultimately, The Eternal acts as a fitting and timeless aide-memoire of everything this mighty band has ever achieved.
  3. Over Thurston and Lee's combustible tunings and Steve's strong beat, they've long since learned to construct memorable tunes track in and track out.
  4. The Eternal is absorbing and raw, from the slower, affable 'Antenna' to the pounding 'Poison Arrow.'
  5. The songs on The Eternal are more conventionally rock-oriented than any in Sonic Youth’s career, yet the album doesn’t really sound like a departure.
  6. The band’s put together one of their more accessible albums, full of immediate thrills instead of drawn-out weirdness.
  7. Sonic Youth's freedom to follow their bliss is what holds The Eternal together; just as paradoxically, the changes they make on this album not only bring excitement to their music, they reaffirm just how consistently good the band has been--and continues to be--over the years.
  8. Ingredients from those progressive forays ensure that the new tunes sound fresh even as the album is marked with such Sonic signatures as artful contrasts and angular arrangements.
  9. Both cerebral and corporeal, sacred and profane, The Eternal sees this band approach the level of The Velvet Underground, where chaos and beauty ravish each other within the same song. Clever old sods.
  10. So here’s a Sonic Youth record in which Ms. Gordon sings all the best stuff.
  11. The Eternal is a rock group playing at the peak of their powers: assured but not ‘comfortable,’ and free with each other.
  12. It's Sonic Youth's most compelling album in years.
  13. There is an excitable, almost naive quality to its visceral riffs and enthusiastic name-checks of artists, poets and countercultural figures.
  14. The Eternal is simply just another confirmation that Sonic Youth is one of the most essential---if not the most essential---indie collectives of the past thirty years.
  15. Mojo
    Almost three decades into their journey, age has only emboldened them. [Jul 2009, p.99]
  16. The irony is that The Eternal might be their most concise record ever. It's also a rock & roll ass-kicker.
  17. Alternative Press
    They're still delivering more aural discovery and attitude than both their weary, uninspired colleagues and the legion of fumbling neophyte upstarts combined. [Jul 2009, p.130]
  18. Hitting a second stride with "Murray Street" in 2002, the band maintains its leadership position among melodic noise-makers with The Eternal, which is so chock-full of hummable pop hooks you'd think a hit doctor lent a hand.
  19. It's certainly heavier, but it's tuneful and heavy at the same time.
  20. Under The Radar
    This is the sound of a band at its most self-aware, tuggging gently at the boundaries of their trademark sound to gorgeous effect. [Summer 2009, p.68]
  21. Q Magazine
    Refreshingly, nothing outstays its welcome, not even nine-minute closer 'Massage The History.' [Jul 2009, p.124]
  22. These songs aren’t purely doom and gloom; they’re not tons of fun either, but hope and curiosity abound, even if they’re not easy to spot on first listen.
  23. Filter
    All the things you love about Sonic Youth are here, just a little fewer and further between than you'd like. [Spring 2009, p.93]
  24. Its indulgent length--just shy of the ten-minute mark--reflects The Eternal’s most glaring weakness: a lengthy running time that undermines its focus on careening, punkish abandon over measured songwriting.
  25. Yes, The Eternal is “Another Sonic Youth Record” but it’s also “Another Good Sonic Youth record”, revealing its finer details gradually, even if there’s no fundamentally new approach, arrangement, or message, in any of the songs.
  26. At the very least, some excellent songs lurk among these 12 tracks, and there's enough potential for debate about which are which to make The Eternal worthy of Sonic Youth's singular canon.
  27. The Eternal offers a sort of survey course in SY history, careering from their early art-school atonality to the more melodically sophisticated compositions of later years. The problem is, none of it looks forward; in spelunking through the past, the band seems to have forgotten to unearth anything new.
  28. The three-guitar interplay, moderated by bassist Mark Ibold and Steve Shelley on drums, is confident if briefly indulgent ('Walkin Blue'), but Sonic Youth reigns in those tendencies for the most part, making The Eternal its most straightforward album yet.
  29. The Eternal is a fun, superficial tangent, disappointing in its regressiveness but enjoyable as long you don't examine it too closely.
  30. Really, everything is utterly in its right place on The Eternal, which is also its most glaring flaw, and its this lack of the new that makes it kind of a bummer, though, at the least, a pleasant one.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 75 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 31
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 31
  3. Negative: 15 out of 31
  1. Aug 20, 2013
    Pitchfork can keep their 6.8 and 2009 obsession with the glo-fi fad; this ranks (and rocks) just as well as any of SY's excellent 2000s albumsPitchfork can keep their 6.8 and 2009 obsession with the glo-fi fad; this ranks (and rocks) just as well as any of SY's excellent 2000s albums and their late 80s triptych. It will likely remain underrated for years to come because it lacks some of the hazy production techniques of their three prior albums; especially the tuneful (and excellent in its own right) Rather Ripped. Full Review »
  2. FelipeRS
    Mar 11, 2010
  3. FelipeRS
    Jul 9, 2009