What's been going on with Thurston Moore? Aside from release a new cassette of experimental space rock, it looks like he got a pet dog. 'The Best Day' is the Sonic Youth frontman's first solo record since he released 'Demolished Thoughts' in 2010, a year after Sonic Youth distributed their final document, 'The Eternal'. The record shows off Moore's dedication to ferocious no wave guitars but also flinches for moments of acoustic balladry. Aside from the dog, there are some accomplished indie rock musicians backing Moore on this one -- Steve Shelley, of course, as well as Deb Googe of MBV and James Sedwards of Nought.
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I always wanted Glenn Branca to make dad rock. Seriously, though: 'The Ascension' was good and all -- who doesn't enjoy a formal guitar exercise that spans up to ten minutes at a time -- but the No Wave hero has always been due a left-about turn into the kind of rock music that asks for socks for Christmas. I'm projecting my own dad on y'all right now, but still: I'm glad Thurston Moore has tried to imagine what Dad Rock Branca would sound like. 'The Best Day' is the angular, post-punk version of Jeff Tweedy singing about his washing machine. It's full of those ghastly guitar tones we all love, the spry harmonics that make a good Sonic Youth record a little more beautiful, and eight-minute compositional spiels that make us guitar abstracers feel at home -- but it's also not shy about guitar solos that sound like lectures about Jimi Hendrix.
Moore is reaching on 'The Best Day', which is admirable: he's performing songs that take up a side a piece, that float in the ether with their lethargic guitar droning before recasting Moore's slurred vocals eight minutes in -- just when we've all but forgotten he was in the room. The problem is that, you know, he's always reaching: the eleven minute "Forevermore" goes in for an epic, almost proggy venture, but comes out sounding kind of drab and flattened out, with none of the versatility or urgency that made Moore's work so good on records from 'Daydream Nation' right through to the ambituous 'Eternal'. Good news, though: each verse is kissed off with Moore promising "that's why I love you forever more". Forget the minor key and gruesome storytelling. I told you: dad rock.
Listening to 'The Best Day' fills me with a sense of dread for indie rock: you know it's reached through a few generations when Moore is releasing comfortably numb solo records that rip on his older works and pale in comparison. But unlike Robert Pollard -- and maybe more like Mark Lanegan, sadly -- Moore is at least trying to find new sounds, playing a sharp acoustic motif on "Tape" that sounds anachronistic for him, played with an Eastern influence and a surprising clarity that the noisemaker can't usually stomach. It's a reminder that Moore's probably best when he's not trying to sharpen his riffs and disengage with his listener, the way he thinks they want. Be the cool dad you want to see in the world.
8/10 Trobot 8th November 2014
Some very good moments indeed on the latest song-based release from Thrust. Much of the acoustic introspection of 'Demolished Thoughts' is forsaken for cranked jams a la 'Murray Street' (there's been comparisons to 'A Thousand Leaves' too but the tracks are more focused than that sprawler...). 'Speak to the Wild' and 'Forevermore' frontload the album with its two finest moments. Epic, propulsive guitar dreams that beautifully accompany a long night drive or suchlike. The first track really lets fly about 5 mins in when Thurston's Jazzmaster quotes Washing Machine in the right speaker while the band pummel, pummel along to Shelley's kit. 'Forevermore' shares the steady pace and light/dark shifts of 'Speak' but here we clock in at 11 minutes, Moore intoning his signature blend of sacred beat verses, "Mary Magdalene, sweet light soul/Your smiling eyes in the candles, holy go/That's why I love you forevermore."
While the rest of the album doesn't reach the heights of its lengthy opening salvo, Grace Lake is a worthy addition to the list of notable TM instrumentals and the title track wears its Keef riffin' well. Some of the stand out lyrics on 'The Best Day' were provided by Radieux Radio, ostensibly a London-based poet who is certainly in tune with Thurston's interests - 'Tape' being a love song to the cassette, while Vocabularies deals with gender politics in the effortless manner of many a Sonic Youth tune.
The LP tails off towards the end, Moore admitting that he sequenced 'Germs Burn' last due to his dissatisfaction with the track's vocal. Nevertheless, this is another strong group blast from one of our most distinctive musical voices.
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