In the last five years or so, each successive Sonic Youth release has been met with an increasingly disdainful chorus of snores. Even die-hard fans have been forced to acknowledge their waning enthusiasm, and inevitably began to ponder the fate of their calamitous heroes. However, in the vile year of 2001, two things happened to Sonic Youth. First, after a fruitful collaboration, Jim O’Rourke joined the band. Then the sky caved in, raining the fallout of a burned-out commercial airliner directly over their NYC studio. And although both events were unrelated (there’s no substantial proof to the contrary), these apocalyptic occurrences seem to have forged a new band out of molten parts. Murray Street is exhilarating; it’s the sound of the band staking out new Sonic territory while retaining the same spirit that has always made them so f’ing great. O’Rourke’s bass is the anchor, lending Steve Shelley’s perpetually sturdy drumming an equally sane and effective hand in freeing the three guitarists to explore, while simultaneously keeping them from falling off the edges of the earth. Granted, that’s been the general idea since Shelley joined, but Murray Street is more than a reminder of that general assemblage. It’s as though the band has reclaimed its soul. The songs radiate warmth and pulse with rejuvenated purpose, the guitars follow blissful sun-dazed currents to transcendent ends, and, most surprisingly, all three of the singers, even Thurston, sound relaxed and confident. Simply put (and this is especially gratifying after a few shaky and uncertain moments), Murray Street is an iridescent, damned glorious record.