We are now in year 31 of the great SONIC YOUTH experiment.
If the last few years and releases have shown us anything is that all the members of Sonic Youth continue to be vital, creative, involved people, fully invested in their lives and art.
What it has also shown us clearly is that the individuals in SY are more invested in their own personal projects, whatever they may be, than they are in the collective entitiy called SY. Thurston has been writing most of the songs alone, on a fucking acoustic guitar of all things, and then he hands out lyrics to Kim. They do not spend the time it takes together to influence each other's ears and minds, creating new sounds. Between his folk-soft shit (which I swear I will LOVE if I make it to retirement age) and his writing, publishing, etc. T's time is pretty used up.
Lee has been busy with intimate solo performances and art pieces, and crafting new solo songs FINALLY, that there is no way he can be as invested in the SY.
Steve is in 8 bands, as I have said before. A great drummer is always in demand and Steve will only grow in his skillz and subtlety. He has a lot of music in his future.
Kim has been busy raising a daughter, writing songs with other people besides the Youth, and getting even more heavily involved with the Haute Couture and Fine Art worlds. She has said in interviews that what she looks forward to as far as the SY go, are the live performances. She has also said that it is a heavy drain on her and her hands, even after her switch to "rhythm guitar" and Ibold on bass.
As one gets older, (and I hit 38 a couple months ago so I can see the future), one's creative focus can narrow in an introspective way. Painters, musicians, writers, we all go through it. The communal creative experience just loses some importance. The personal, the stuff that is original to onesself as an individual human, that is what begins to fascinate, to feed the fire of one's art.
For all the great tunes on the last 3-4 SY albums, if you are honest with yourself, you will see that they are basically SY-Lite. They lack a cohesion of force. It may be my own opinion but that is what it feels like. The last album I was 85% in love with was Sonic Nurse. The Eternal seems like a collection of half-assed SY, much like what I felt during the EJST&NS era. I thought that SY was done then. They mended the fences and continued on with great stuff, but the end was near. It could be felt.
SY have outlived so many other bands. SY have made so many fantastic records. They have created some of the most intense songs ever. They have shown how to be a proper BAND. I love them so much.
SY are worth hours, days, years of my life. They are worth travel, expense, collecting all their shit, and my undying love.
but all good things must end, and I would rather they end before they release anything truly embarrasing.