Confusion Is Sex

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Confusion Is Sex
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 1983
Sonic Youth chronology
Sonic Youth
Confusion Is Sex
Kill Yr Idols
Sonic Youth studio album chronology
Confusion Is Sex
Bad Moon Rising
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2/5 stars[1]
Blender1/5 stars[2]
Chicago Tribune2/4 stars[3]
Christgau's Record GuideC+[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[6]
Spin4/5 stars[7]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[8]

Confusion Is Sex is the debut studio album by American noise rock band Sonic Youth. It was released on vinyl LP in February 1983 by record label Neutral. It has been cited as an important example of the no wave genre.[9] AllMusic called it "lo-fi to the point of tonal drabness, as the instruments seem to ring out in only one tone, that of screechy noise".

Background and recording[edit]

Confusion Is Sex was recorded by Wharton Tiers in his Chelsea studio (which he had set up in the basement of a building where he worked as a superintendent). It was mostly recorded during Jim Sclavunos' brief tenure as drummer for the band, and he appears on drums for most of the album. As the sessions drew to a close, Sclavunos chose to quit and Bob Bert was invited back.[10] Bert appeared on "Making the Nature Scene" and the live Stooges cover "I Wanna Be Your Dog". Confusion Is Sex is the only Sonic Youth album on which guitarist Lee Ranaldo plays bass, specifically on the song "Protect Me You".

The lyrics to "The World Looks Red" were written by Michael Gira of the band Swans, who would later reuse the same lyrics on the song "The World Looks Red/The World Looks Black" on that band's 2016 album The Glowing Man.[11]

Ranaldo recorded the track "Lee Is Free" solo at home on two tape recorders.[12]


The cover image is a sketch by bassist Kim Gordon of guitarist Thurston Moore.[13] This image was used on gig posters early in the band's career.[13]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Sonic Youth (Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Jim Sclavunos and Bob Bert), except "The World Looks Red", by Michael Gira; all music is composed by Sonic Youth, except "I Wanna Be Your Dog", by the Stooges.

Side A
1."(She's in A) Bad Mood"MooreMoore5:36
2."Protect Me You"GordonGordon5:28
3."Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Your Dog" (The Stooges cover) Gordon3:39
4."Shaking Hell"GordonGordon4:06
Side B
6."The World Looks Red"GiraMoore2:43
7."Confusion Is Next"MooreMoore3:28
8."Making the Nature Scene"GordonGordon3:01
9."Lee Is Free"  3:37
1995 CD reissue bonus tracks (Kill Yr Idols EP)
10."Kill Yr Idols"MooreMoore2:51
11."Brother James"GordonGordon3:17
12."Early American"GordonGordon6:07
13."Shaking Hell (Live)"GordonGordon3:15


Sonic Youth



  1. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "Confusion Is Sex – Sonic Youth". AllMusic. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  2. ^ Wolk, Douglas (October 2006). "Back Catalogue: Sonic Youth". Blender (52): 154–55.
  3. ^ Kot, Greg (September 27, 1992). "The Evolution Of Sonic Youth". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "Sonic Youth: Confusion Is Sex". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Sonic Youth". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 758–59. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  7. ^ Azerrad, Michael (September 2007). "Discography: Thurston Moore". Spin. 23 (9): 74. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  8. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  9. ^ Terich (2015-07-05), Jeff. "Beginner's Guide: No Wave". Treble Zine. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  10. ^ Psychic Confusion: The Sonic Youth Story by Stevie Chick
  11. ^ "Swans".
  12. ^ "TRIBUTE: Celebrating 35 Years of Sonic Youth's Debut Album 'Confusion Is Sex'". Albumism.
  13. ^ a b Browne, David (2009). Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81603-2.

External links[edit]