[sic] Magazine

Thurston Moore – The Best Day

Be he cutting it alone, fronting the abrasive Chelsea Light Moving or basking in the residual glow of Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore has always had a knack for getting a hook inside your head. In fairness, it’s a skill the entire Sonic Youth line-up still share: Moore’s ex-wife Kim Gordon recently launched Body/Head and her endeavours to date have been as artistic as they are striking, while Lee Ranaldo’s solid solo career has also hit the ground running since Sonic Youth finally unravelled in 2011. All the same it’s Moore that produces the most dynamic, essential and accessible listening of the lot these days and The Best Day, his first solo record since 2010, lands, perhaps unsurprisingly, somewhere between latter-day Sonic Youth and his previous one-man shows.

Now with James Sedwards of Nought on second guitar, Debbie Googe of My Bloody Valentine on bass and the ever-faithful Steve Shelley still on drums, much of The Best Day, it must be said, is Moore by-numbers. “Germs Burn”, for example, cuts in with textbook attitude and slashes away alongside Moore’s familiar yelp, Sedwards proving himself a fine foil off which to bounce a riff or two, Moore’s own off-the-cuff fireworks confirming his passion for playing is still very much alive despite everything.

Two wistful 12-string shimmies break the trend, both pretty little progressions cut with experimental screeches and field recordings. There’s a touch of the cringe-worthy, however, to three-minute thrash “Detonation” when poet Radieux Radio has been given licence to whisper a stream-of-conscious into Moore’s ear, which sees him to confess to “o-gasms” and nonsensical claims of having to “use a toy grenade”. Mercifully, on the other hand, the title track takes the LP by the scruff of the neck, a stabbing repeat getting a groove started before devolving into sharp riffs and a gnarly solo courtesy of Sedwards.

Moore’s no newcomer though, he knows how and when to play the game and as such frontloads The Best Day with its two most memorable statements, coincidentally the two longest solo songs he’s recorded to date. All eleven minutes of the dark “Forevermore” pits a low bass grumble against Moore’s perfect drawl, his patient winding of the post-rock spring both bringing and releasing the track’s latent tension. We are, of course, however, above speculating who it is exactly that Moore will love forevermore though.

Also never really in full rock mode, the mesmeric “Speak To The Wild” is full of Moore’s trademark slacking, the track’s post-punk repeats bringing “Marquee Moon” to mind, its sweet guitar-on-guitar action reminding you of its true author. True, there’s a dose of the indulgent about these two tracks, but on reflection they’re fine songs so why not reprise them and take them to their fullest? The Best Day isn’t an urgent record and Moore isn’t an artist currently overwhelmed by urgency. He’s no intention of leaving an audience pining for more; he gives them instead precisely what he wants in the order he thinks they’ll like it. And that’s how to play the game and win.

Best tracks: “Speak To The Wild” and “Forevermore”

~The Best Day is released 20th October 2014 on Matador.~