Rather Ripped was released on June 13, 2006 by record label Geffen. It charted at number 71 on the US Billboard 200 and at number 64 on the UK Albums Chart. It was Sonic Youth's last studio album on Geffen: they left the label in 2008, and until their 2011 hiatus, recorded thereafter on Matador Records.
Two singles were released from the album: "Helen Lundeberg"/"Eyeliner" and "Incinerate".
For the UK edition of the album, two bonus tracks were included ("Helen Lundeberg" and "Eyeliner"), which were taken from an untitled single that was released shortly before the record. "Helen Lundeberg" is also available in the USA as a bonus track on the iTunes Music Store digital download edition of the album. On the Japan edition of the album, three bonus tracks were included; in addition to the two UK bonus tracks, the track "Do You Believe in Rapture? (Psychedelic Mix)" was also included.
The album so far has a score of 82 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "universal acclaim"; the score is tied with the 2002 album Murray Street.Stylus Magazine gave the album an A- and called it the band's " radio-rock record, and it's not a tribute, it's as close to the real thing as they've come since they actually had a chance at radio play back in the '90s."The A.V. Club also gave it an A- and said it was " unmistakably a Sonic Youth album, right down to the snatches of amp-on-fire distortion, the tuneless speak-singing of Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon, and an emphasis on guitar texture that includes amplifying each strummed string."Prefix Magazine gave the album a very favorable review and stated, "To call the album the band's most accessible to date is no slur. There's nothing wrong with accessible indie rock when it's this pristine and polished."The New York Times also gave it a very favorable review and called it "a fully legitimate, clear and strong rock 'n' roll record in the band's own style. And it may really be the best one."The Phoenix gave it 3.5 stars out of 4 and called it "[Sonic Youth's] most openly 'mature' disc, possibly their best since ’95’s Washing Machine, maybe even the almighty Daydream Nation."
Neumu.net gave the album a score of 8 stars out of 10 and said it was "what you'd expect from a Sonic Youth that's getting back to the cool rock 'n' roll sound they trademarked years ago, completed by a tagline of frenzied feedback and chiming guitars."Yahoo! Music UK also gave it 8 stars and called it "a terrific, life-affirming and, at times, deeply romantic album - one that proves the potentials in both rock'n'roll and the electric guitar."Playlouder gave it 4 stars out of 5 and called it "the most accomplished and mature album Sonic Youth have done in years."Mojo also gave it 4 stars out of 5 and stated, "There's surely never been a Sonic Youth album so un-self-conscious."Uncut likewise gave the album 5 stars out of 5 and said that "Several tracks are up with [the band's] best."Alternative Press likewise gave it 4 stars and called it "the sound of a band no longer setting their distortion pedals on stun, and, as a result, the best songs are as low-key as a small town on Sunday morning."Paste gave it a score of 8 out of 10 and called it "About as accessible and smooth as this band is going to get."Now also gave the album 4 stars out of 5 and said that Sonic Youth "continue their slow but remarkable progression that currently finds them, for the most part, dropping old SY standbys such as long experimental noise passages in exchange for a significantly more sedated route."Billboard likewise gave it a favorable review and called it "a concise serving of what the band does best."
NME gave the album a score of 7 out of 10 and called it "a really good record--but not a patch on... Daydream Nation."Under the Radar gave the album 7 stars out of 10 and stated, "Rarely have [Sonic Youth] laid down so many tunes that are this downright pretty, hummable, even."Dusted Magazine gave the album a positive review and called it "a fitting overview of everything that’s always worked for Sonic Youth in the past."E! Online gave it a B- and said that the album "feels more overly familiar and Velvet Underground-y than usual, which isn't a good thing for a band with such forward-thinking ideals."
Other reviews were average or mixed: Q gave the album 3 stars out of 5 and called it the "most mature album to date."Blender also gave it 3 stars out of 5 and called it "[the band's] songiest record in more than a decade."Spin gave the album a score of 4 out of 10 and called it "three- or four-minute songcraft--never the highlight of [the band's] resume."
^Top 50 albums of 2006 of Pitchfork Media. December 19, 2006.1 "On Murray Street and Sonic Nurse, Jim O'Rourke pulled Sonic Youth out of a late-90s rut, spurring noise-rock jams that looked backward, forward, and somewhere in between. But even the biggest fan of those albums probably wouldn't deny craving a sequel to pop records like Goo and Dirty, and on their first post-O'Rourke effort, Sonic Youth offer exactly that: Twelve shiny, beefed-up rockers that funnel noise into melody at a level not seen since The Year Punk Broke. The surprise isn't so much that the quartet made this move, but that they pulled it off so sharply. There's hardly a wrong turn here, just reams of revved-up rock with all the classic pieces-- Kim Gordon's voice, Thurston Moore's writing, Lee Ranaldo's poetry, Steve Shelley's energy-- locked together as tightly as a jigsaw puzzle." --Marc Masters
^Top 50 albums of 2006 of Rolling Stone at the Wayback Machine (archived June 19, 2008). December 29, 2006. "Their mean age now up to forty-eight with thirtysomething troublemaker Jim O'Rourke gone, indie's gray eminences made a light, simple, terse, almost-pop album. Granted, the guitar hook on, for instance, 'Do You Believe in Rapture?' wouldn't sound so lovely if they and all their progeny hadn't long since adjusted our harmonic expectations. But who better to play to our expanded capacity for tuneful beauty? The vocal star of Rather Ripped is Kim Gordon, breathlessly girlish at fifty-three as she and her husband evoke visions of dalliance, displacement, recrimination and salvation that never become unequivocally literal."