Album Review: Thurston Moore – The Best Day

The Breakdown

A solid, enjoyable outing from the former Sonic Youth man, complete with an all star band, and some of his former bands attitude and vibe
Matador Records

So if we were keeping score(which I am), then Kim Gordon was whipping Thurston Moore in regards to the quality of post-breakup records. Her Body/Head album from last year was miles ahead of Moore’s mediocre Chelsea Light Moving album that came out last year as well. She made an album that was just as much a performance art piece as it was serious artistic statement. The faux swagger of Chelsea Light Moving only made Thurston Moore look like the old dude trying to be a young dude; not the aging-with-grace sonic pioneer showing that he still had it in him to make cool, crazy noise. Well Moore switched gears and has released an album under his own name, put together a new band that includes Sonic Youth drum basher Steve Shelley, My Bloody Valentine bassist Debbie Googe, and guitarist James Sedwards of UK math-punk trio Nought. The Best Day is light years above Chelsea Light Moving and is a solid 50 minutes of post-2000s Sonic Youth noise.

Post-2000s Sonic Youth. I’m referring to the albums Murray Street, Sonic Nurse, and Rather Ripped. In the Sonic Youth canon these records were lighter in sound and texture, but more rambling and expansive. The band found a streak of epic lollygagging that tickled my fancy just fine. These albums felt layered and deep; not jagged, painful, and angry like the Sonic Youth of the 80s and early 90s. The Best Day lingers in the mid-2000s for inspiration and an overall sonic palate. “Speak to the Wild” sounds like a re-imagined “Disconnection Notice”, with Moore and Sedwards filling the cracks with jangly riffs and Googe adding a nice low end depth to the sound. “Forevermore” is dark, post-punk cloaked in a krautrock beat. It’s 11 minutes of tension and release. It’s also the best thing Thurston Moore has done in a long time. “Tape” is an intricate acoustic track that brings to mind both Nels Cline great work on his Coward album, as well as Moore’s own work on his Trees Outside The Academy album from a few years ago. “The Best Day” is about as straightforward rock ‘n roll as Moore gets. It’s a fun rocker with an honest-to-God pentatonic blues scales guitar solo. It’s good stuff, with some interesting eastern guitar runs thrown in there for good measure as well. “Detonation” has a punk rock burn with Moore almost sounding like an early 80s Michael Stipe. It’s R.E.M., hungover and out-of-tune. It’s old school Sonic Youth done by new school Thurston Moore. “Grace Lake” starts out quiet and pretty before slowly folding in onto itself and unfurling into aural fire and smoke. “Germs Burn” closes the record on a lighter note; whiffs of Sonic Youth past mingle with the possible future of this great new collaborative band.

Thurston Moore has caught up, artistically speaking, with his ex. If he can keep this band together I gladly look forward to what they have in store for us next.

7.8 out of 10

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