Thurston Moore- Demolished Thoughts

Thurston Moore—Demolished Thoughts

(Matador Records, 2011)

Thurston Moore has been throwing back his flopped fringe, screwing up his cherub face and bashing out frenzied guitar noise as co-founder of the hugely influential New York outfit Sonic Youth since 1981. On this, Moore’s new solo outing, and following up his gentle 2007 album, Trees from the Academy, he dives even deeper into the barrio of folk and Americana. To produce the new album, Moore roped in the reliably eccentric Beck—himself no stranger to the verdant clines of unplugged experimentation—and the resulting Demolished Thoughts is a masterpiece of poignant understated meditative rock.

Comparisons to Beck’s seminal Sea Change album are unavoidable; both owe a debt to the realm of psychedelic off-kilter folk. But Moore’s new album has a starker, more haunting quality than anything Beck has ever produced. Dumping any twee folk associations, upping the austerity and concentrating on odd time signatures and strange tunings, Moore layers his songs with evocative string arrangements and six- and twelve-string guitar panoramas. From the delicate tinkering and sweeping strings of In Silver Rain with a Paper Key, the almost off-key strum of Circulation and the tentative balladry of opener Benediction, the album is thick with themes of regret and holding on to those you cherish. These are not altogether surprising themes for a punk rocker heading into his fifties, but whatever vigour Moore may have lost by discarding the heavier riffs and going acoustic has not lessened the overall strength or passion of his material one iota.

So often solo albums sound like fragments of ideas assembled in a studio. But this album is as complete as any release from Moore’s main band. Linked by common themes, which have been carefully nurtured to fruition, this collection of songs reveals a post-punk legend unafraid of ageing, experimentation or exposing a heart as soft as marshmallow.

Portions of this review published in Spoke magazine 2011.