An exhilarating new beginning for the Sonic Youth frontman
Much has happened in Thurston Moore’s life since his last solo album, 2011’s ‘Demolished Thoughts’. The same year, he and Kim Gordon – his wife since 1984 and Sonic Youth co-founder – divorced. The band was placed on indefinite hold and Moore started a new project, Chelsea Light Moving, who released a decent self-titled album last year. Also in 2013, he moved to London, a place he’s always been infatuated with, to live with Eva Prinz, the woman he’d fallen in love with while married to Gordon. In just three years, his life changed beyond recognition.
The 56-year-old’s music however, has not. While ‘Demolished Thoughts’ may have been a gentle acoustic affair, unshackled noise characterises both Chelsea Light Moving and Moore’s highly limited recent solo output. Still, on first listen, the sense of business as usual here seems strange. His old band could have released ‘The Best Day’ at any point during the last 20 years and it would have made perfect sense. Indeed, Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley occupies the drum stool in current live incarnation The Thurston Moore Band (My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Googe is on bass and Moore’s former Stoke Newington flatmate James Sedwards plays guitar). ‘Speak To The Wild’ is classic Moore, passages of out-of-focus pop melodies countered with atonal one-note riffing before groping to a conclusion via a fuzz-drenched wig out. He’s done it hundreds of times before, but, even in this nth-generation update, it’s totally electrifying.
The notable contrast with his previous work comes in the lyrics. It gradually becomes clear that the ups and downs of Moore’s recent years are writ large throughout. ‘Forevermore’ (“That’s why I want you forevermore”) is intense, and it’s moving to hear Moore write with such candour about being in love. ‘Vocabularies’, meanwhile, is about what might happen if there was a universal language for the world: an alternative hymn to Esperanto set to swirling acoustic drone. It sounds like the kind of idealistic thought you’d have when exhilarated by a new beginning.
A little bit new, but mostly the same, then. ‘The Best Day’ is the refreshing sound of Moore addressing familiar musical themes with renewed energy.
Director: Thurston Moore
Record label: Matador
Release date: 20 Oct, 2014