Confusion Is Sex

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Confusion Is Sex
Studio album by
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
Chicago Tribune[3]
Christgau's Record GuideC+[4]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[7]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[10]

Confusion Is Sex is the debut studio album by American noise rock band Sonic Youth. It was released in 1983 by Neutral Records. It has been referred to as an important example of the no wave genre.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

Ranaldo recorded the track "Lee Is Free" solo at home on two tape recorders.[14]


In a 1984 Trouser Press review, John Leland stated that, on this album, "confusion reigns and happily so. This album sprays out slivers of ringing, reeling, screaming six-string debris, much of it produced with drumsticks and weird tunings. Partaking of Branca's dissonance, Flipper's anarchy and PIL's desperation, these Lower East Side arties capture the violence and hope of their neighborhood. If these sounds hit like an aural root canal, that's just what the doctor ordered."[15]

The cover image is a sketch by bassist Kim Gordon of guitarist Thurston Moore.[16] This image was used on gig posters early in the band's career.[16]

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). "Sonic Youth: Confusion Is Sex". Blender. Vol. 5, no. 9. p. 155. Archived from the original on September 2, 2009. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  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. p. 376. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  5. ^ Eddy, Chuck (March 31, 1995). "Made in USA; Bad Moon Rising; Confusion Is Sex; The Whitey Album". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  6. ^ "Sonic Youth: Confusion Is Sex". Q. No. 104. May 1995. p. 132.
  7. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Sonic Youth". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 758–759. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  8. ^ Morrison, Dave (April 1995). "Sonic Youth: Confusion Is Sex / Kill Yr Idols". Select. No. 58. p. 105.
  9. ^ Weisbard, Eric (June 1995). "Thurston Moore: Psychic Hearts / Free Kitten: Nice Ass / Sonic Youth: Confusion Is Sex / Sonic Youth: Made in USA". Spin. Vol. 11, no. 3. pp. 100–101. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  10. ^ Weisbard, Eric (1995). "Sonic Youth". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 367–368. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  11. ^ Terich (2015-07-05), Jeff. "Beginner's Guide: No Wave". Treble Zine. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  12. ^ Psychic Confusion: The Sonic Youth Story by Stevie Chick
  13. ^ "Swans".
  14. ^ "TRIBUTE: Celebrating 35 Years of Sonic Youth's Debut Album 'Confusion Is Sex'". Albumism.
  15. ^ Leland, John (March 1984). "American Underground". Trouser Press. Vol. 11, no. 1. New York. p. 34. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  16. ^ a b Browne, David (2009). Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81603-2.

External links[edit]