Music Reviews
Demolished Thoughts

Thurston Moore Demolished Thoughts

(Matador Records) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

Mainstream success has mostly eluded Thurston Moore and he’s made something of a career out of being the guy-behind-the-guy that succeeds.  Take Beck Hansen, whose stint at the knobs brings us Moore’s third solo long-player, Demolished Thoughts.  Beck’s own career and prominence in post-90s altrock limbo can both be said to surpass and be attributed to Moore’s influence, his name without the aid of “Sonic Youth” still relatively obscure.

Inasmuch as he will likely continue to be an under-acknowledged participant in the development of all we’ve come to know in terms or modern rock n’ roll, and inasmuch as this lack of credit might create in him a need or reason to reinvent himself or attempt to outweigh his past accomplishments, Moore, (and Sonic Youth, for that matter), has been fine just making good albums.  His last solo outing, Trees Outside The Academy, contained what you’d expect from a pioneer, though its intensity was lessened and carried more of an introspective tone.  However, his arrangements and playing, while more sophisticated, were still enriched with Sonic Youth’s riff-fragments and penchant for dissonance.  Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis aided Moore with a lick or two, his voice another unique and influential presence somehow regarded mostly by loyalists. 

While Trees might’ve been taken as a softening of Moore’s abrasive tone, Demolished Thoughts could be viewed as somewhat of a progression, a MORE acoustic venture laden with violin strings and all the passion Moore’s voice can conjure.  He’s never been much of singer, but his Lou Reed’ish inflections and, at times, boyish tone have always worked for what he does, unpolished enough to compliment the Sonic Youth M.O.  But, it’s also versatile enough to work in an acoustic setting, having just enough feeling and melody to really capture what he’s going for.

Some might say that, thanks to the Beck factor, Moore is securing himself his own little piece of Sea Change.  If you can discount the cathartic nature of Beck’s post break-up dirge, songs like Benediction and Blood Never Lies almost validate such claims, the latter’s somber tone especially qualifying.  The same can be said for Illuminine (Which comes after Illuimin”eight,” get it?), its wallowing string play as woven and wavy as Beck’s Paper Tiger

But, Circulation is strange in that it’s propped up like altrock opera; Moore’s playing mostly relentless though well accented by plucked and bowed strings.  “Needle hits black lacquer/Speakers forgive lies,” Moore reports, piano keys suddenly flurrying unexpectedly from somewhere.  Distortion also seems to emerge during the song’s hook, shaking up the clarity like a subwoofer in a car stereo.  From there, the song is devoted to string interaction, Moore acting as the anchor while his orchestrated components experiment.

Some distant piano play introduces In Silver Rain With A Paper Key, which is an otherwise pretty guitar track that adheres to Demolished Thoughts’ purposes.  Mina Loy’s opening notes standout and Orchard Street is close to paint-by-numbers Sonic Youth, Moore’s tone and repetition familiar enough to those fluent in his output. 

Coincidentally, Mascis also released an acoustic solo album in 2011 (Several Shades Of Why, which was reviewed by No Ripcord’s Daniel Dylan Wray) so it’s no big surprise that these heroes to the disposables of 90s counterculture and those affected by Gen X’d MTV exposure have basically rallied together what support they’ve accrued, taking little interest in anyone outside their respective circles of appreciators.

In the meantime, Sonic Youth’s still chugging along, (with the band’s ninth SYR release, Simon Werner a Disparu, also reviewed by Daniel Dylan Wray), so it’s not if Moore’s abandoning his amplifier.  For the moment, he’s just looking for a quieter way to make the sonic go boom.