Album review: Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore - The Best Day (Matador Records)

ACOUSTIC GUITARS dominated Thurston Moore’s last two solo albums, but the recent collaboration with Chelsea Light Moving and that magnificent January 2013 show in the Róisín Dubh announced his electric six-string was plugged back in.

As well as being sonically different from its predecessor, The Best Day also finds the lanky New Yorker leading a band again, one that features his old mate from Sonic Youth Steve Shelley on drums and My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe on bass (no offence to second guitarist James Sedwards, but neither he, nor his band Nought is in the same league as the three aforementioned Alt.rock titans ).

While Moore is going electric again, this is not an album of abrasive, ear shredding noise, a la Sonic Youth’s Confusion Is Sex. Although traces of Neil Young and The Velvet Underground are audible (and neither was a stranger to confrontational sounding music ), The Best Day is indebted to Krautrock, particularly the steady, insistent rhythms of NEU!. Moore’s riffing is exact and concise, yet with still enough room left for the whole thing to retain a looseness, a sense that it can breathe.

Opening track ‘Speak To The Wild’ appears grounded, but gradually, almost imperceptibly rises into a near freak out, with the drumming becoming faster and the guitars more excitingly discordant, before the whole thing is pulled back into its holding riff.

It takes chops and skill to do that, and the tension between restraint and anarchy, the feeling it all become unpredictable at any minute, makes this track, as well as the 11-minute ‘Forevermore’, and the absolute highlight, the majestic, magnificent instrumental ‘Grace Lake’, the best things here.

The album’s middle section contains the shortest songs which struggle to live up to epic tracks which bookend them - most obviously ‘Tape’, an ode to the cassette so musically ponderous, and sung with such seriousness, it fails to convey the nostalgic joy of its lyrics. An exception is the title-track, which comfortably holds its own with its infectious melody and the bouncing, country-folk infused central riff.

The Best Day is solid and very satisfying, with Moore revelling in playing riff centred left-field rock, but it breaks no new ground, making it an exploratory opening shot from this new gathering, rather than a full statement of intent.

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