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Kim Gordon Returns with "BYE BYE"

Hip hop this year is off to a shaky start—21 Savage and Kid Cudi both put out forgettable projects and Playboi Carti’s teasing has yet to amount to an album release. I’m sure things will pick up, but one thing I did not have on my 2024 bingo card was 70 year old Sonic Youth co-founder Kim Gordon dropping the first rage banger of the new year. Let’s talk about “BYE BYE,” the lead single and opener from her forthcoming sophomore solo album, The Collective, to be released on March 8th.

Complete with blown out subs and distorted synth and guitar leads, Gordon’s new track is a spin on rage music only she could conjure. A frantic trap beat kicks off the song, soon followed by evolving layers of compressed yet explosive guitars that make their way around the stereo field. The near industrial atmosphere provides the backdrop for Gordon to deliver what seems to be a shopping or packing list. Yup, you heard me. It might seem odd, but her off-kilter monotone presentation somehow makes this mundane string of words completely hypnotic. Who knew eyeliner and dental floss could sound so ominous. 

Gordon is no stranger to this controlled chaos. Her first solo album, 2019’s No Home Record, was just as left field as “BYE BYE,” with a number of tracks also taking influence from hip hop and featuring a near spoken word delivery. “Sketch Artist” makes use of similarly distorted 808s and “Paprika Pony” hosts a straightforward lofi trap beat, both forming the backdrop for Gordon’s unique vocal approach. The record feels all over the place yet contained, all a product of Gordon’s eagerness to forge new ground with sounds popular in genres well outside the scope of Sonic Youth’s domain.

This time around is no different, except the trap influence has evolved into rage, a subgenre that blew up over the past few years with artists like Playboi Carti, Yeat, Ken Carson and Destroy Lonely. However, Gordon is forging her own style with these sounds, and no matter what Pitchfork (R.I.P.) says, “BYE BYE” could not blend into the monotonous slog of a Lonely mixtape. While it is dark and subdued, Gordon’s approach is unique and captivating, introducing a range of guitar textures that can’t help but reveal her noise rock background. While rage music often makes use of guitar loops, it rarely pays as much attention to guitar layering, tones and textures, relying on vocals to generate momentum. Conversely, Gordon puts the guitars at the forefront, making for a new mode of rage.

I hope to hear more songs in this vein on the upcoming album, but if No Home Record is any indication, we’re in for a variety of sonic experiments. For now, I’ll just keep spinning “BYE BYE.” If you like alt rock and shoegaze, a couple passes at this track might unlock an interest in rage music. If your background is more hip hop, perhaps Gordon can help open the door to the world of experimental rock. Whatever you like, if you want something dark, dissonant, and a bit hard to make sense of, be sure to check out the new single.


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