Thurston Moore, The Best Day

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 10.14.14 in Reviews

Three years after the end of Sonic Youth (and a year and a half after what appears to have been a one-off album with Chelsea Light Moving), Thurston Moore has relocated to England and assembled a new quartet that doesn’t particularly mark a change of direction for him. If somebody claimed that The Best Day was a lost Sonic Youth record, it’d be easy to believe — although you might wonder why there weren’t any Lee Ranaldo or Kim Gordon songs on it. (The Thurston Moore Band’s bass position is filled by Deb Googe of My Bloody Valentine; Moore’s guitar foil is now James Sedwards of Nought; Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley plays drums with the new group, too.)

Eight songs’ worth of Moore getting his familiar grooves back

The Best Day isn’t a grand statement, and it’s not rooted in a particular place the way a lot of Moore’s records of this century have been; it’s just eight songs’ worth of him getting his familiar grooves back. “Germs Burn” is his latest tribute to the ’70s punk that fuels his love of noise (specifically the L.A. band Germs, whose fans gave each other circular cigarette burns), and the 11-minute “Forevermore” is another in his line of homages to the monomaniacal pulse of Neu! — although Shelley’s loose, bumpy rhythm gives it a very different sort of texture. “Tape” and “Vocabularies” are both acoustic tracks, a more stripped-down version of what Moore was doing on 2011′s Demolished Thoughts; “Grace Lake” is an instrumental jam in which Sedwards and Moore’s guitars eventually build up enough friction to catch fire. Moore’s gift for gnarled, dissonant electric riffs is undiminished, but what’s missing here is the creative tension that kept Sonic Youth from getting too comfortable.