Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Kim Gordon: No Home Record [Matador, 2019]
Pre- or post-breakup, Gordon's non-Sonic Youth music has always indulged her avant-garde commitments and pretensions. Tossing off punky jingles or slathering on the noise, she's honored the dada-derived throwaway, "experimental" in the sense of an aesthetic conjecture no one will miss if it leads nowhere. This is very different--its unfinished sound further enriches a musical goal Gordon and producer-collaborator Justin Raisen clearly labored to get right. A few plays in, consigned by surgery to a portable sound system, I concluded that I wouldn't hear the album for what it was till I was back in my office with some real speakers, and though I'd enjoyed and admired it before, I was right. The guitars credited throughout meld with the electronics that dominate in a rough but also eloquently textured construct that complements the fragility and directness of Gordon's sometimes pained, sometimes whispery vocals. Definitely there are verbal coups here--"Air BnB"'s skeptical post-hedonism, "Earthquake"'s "sand in my heart for you." But you'll come back for the sounds. A