Sonically Youthful. Lee Ranaldo, Between The Times And The Tides.

Rattled off onto tape – the odd set of 'bonus beats' hacked out by the Tall Firs' Aaron Mullan – and with its tracklisting definitively slashed into two distinct, single-sided portions Lee Ranaldo's Between The Times And The Tides is indubitably a record drenched in nostalgia and firmly entrenched in old ways yet it sees the Sonic Youth man at his most boyish in figurative aeons.

In terms of its aural aesthetic the record sits rather snugly as a markedly '90s effort evocative of Washing Machine, a record with which Ranaldo was intimately affiliated. Featuring Kims Deal and Gordon on the downtempo drudge of Little Trouble Girl, Between The Times And The Tides often reflects the blithe, triumphant sensations purported by The Breeders as an overriding grunge-slanted dissonance is counterbalanced by tender and imaginative melodies, a sublime mellifluousness coursing through its being. The aforesaid Sonic Youth LP also featured the co-writing credits of Leah Singer on its raw penultimate cut Skip Tracer and Ranaldo's wife here features again as 'Lyric Consultant, Muse, Etc'. Consequently much of the album in question is – at least lyrically – mildly introspective with the ramshackle acoustica of Angles serves as sweet eulogising of his dearly beloved as Ranaldo waxes lyrical about "visions of we two childlike and on our own", longing to "turn off all the lights now/ turn on the stars". Profuse metaphorical poeticism and although Ranaldo's vocals here assimilate the pallid drone of a rumpled Michael Stipe it's a free, easy, robust and utterly rollocking early highlight. The plucked lull of Hammer Blows sees out Side One, recalling much of Moore's unaccompanied endeavours and, true to vinyl format, sees out the side in quietude.

Fire Island (Phases) meanwhile, again faithful to the concept of the flipside, begins amidst a petrifying flurry of mordant, bulging guitars you're left longing to chomp into like the spongiest mixture of marshmallow prior to slipping extraordinarily into country slump sustained by slide guitars yet more pinguid than most roadside greasy spoons. Notwithstanding such whimsical shifts in style, it's Ranaldo's most invigorating track since the scarcely palpable lyrical concepts of Off The Wall during which he concedes to feeling "just half a man/ Tryin' to get whole" before later pleading to be led homewards by the hand. So seductive are these three minutes that there'll surely be so many in place of a mere "someone in the crowd" propelling meathooks in his general direction. As a celebrated scriber meanwhile, it's a line from page 106 of Dave McFadden's lost cult classic The Great Canadian Sonnet that inspires the rambunctious, yet punctiliously conceived Lost and here his binary abilities are superbly combined: a chorus of "Cuz you're lost/ You really don't know/ That you're lost/ Your lost but you're whole" succinctly encapsulates a pop simplicity yet elegiac stanzas of being "lost in that perfect prison" within which days are spent "in the wine and sand" exhibit Ranaldo's novelistic touch. Thus although the sleeve artwork to Between The Times And The Tides may suggest Ranaldo slipping into a peripheral background (and indeed its musical content doesn't exactly clamour furiously for scrutiny nor vigilant surveillance), he's sure shuffling to the foreground with this subtly irreproachable collection.