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Posted on May 19th, 2011 (12:00 pm) by Michael Cirigliano

To say that the aging process has treated Thurston Moore well would be an incredible understatement: on Demolished Thoughts, the former Sonic Youth guitarist creates an incredibly genial collection of songs that rely on a level of confidence that only a rock legend could hope to display. For his latest solo effort for Matador Records, Moore turned to longtime friend Beck to take the reins as producer. Such a combination could have resulted in an incredibly loud and aggressively defiant album, with both artists known for creating massive walls of sound in their previous output. Rather than following that route though, Moore and Beck crafted an intimate album of largely-acoustic folk ballads, building on the sound Moore began to explore on 2007’s Trees Outside the Academy. Gone are the reverb pedals and experimental techniques of his heyday with Sonic Youth, replaced by crisp acoustic guitars, strings, and even flashes of harp.

Introspection and nuance are key elements on Demolished Thoughts, with Moore creating some of his more earnest and straight-forward lyrics as a result. Opening track, “Benediction”, creates a quiet world reminiscent of Nick Drake, but without the lachrymose lyrics usually associated with the English artist. Instead, “Benediction” is Moore’s ode to the stability and beauty of love in one’s life, with Moore gently decreeing, “You better hold your lover down, tie him to the ground, whisper ‘I love you’ a thousand times into his ear”. Likewise, on “Circulation”, over up-tempo guitars and layered strings, Moore declares, “I’m not running away—she’s my here to stay”. Coming from one of the pioneers of the angst-ridden ‘90s alternative scene, this recurring sentiment proves to be an even stronger and valedictory statement to make. Any tension found on Demolished Thoughts comes not from adding layers of noise or despondent lyrics; rather, Moore and Beck build tension in their sound by grounding the harmonic language, with songs moving quickly and effortlessly between ethereal soundscapes and deeper, edgier choruses of guitar.

None of this is to say that there aren’t hints of Moore’s Sonic Youth creations embedded deep within the album. On album highlight “Mina Loy”, drums and guitars work together as an engine, creating a thick and cavernous sound that allows Moore’s voice to dovetail in and out of the string statements—sounding like dark memories of musical bygone times. Rather than relying on strident guitars creating a wash of metallic sound, Moore turns to the icy tremolo of a violin or the fierce rip of a harp in order to create a dynamic change in texture. Such moments provide an astonishing sense of contrast, one that makes the album even more satisfying. Ultimately, Demolished Thoughts presents yet another departure from Moore’s iconic past—with the result being an unexpected musical journey that ranks alongside his strongest work to date.

Track List:
1. Benediction
2. Illuminine
3. Circulation
4. Blood Never Lies
5. Orchard Street
6. In Silver Rain With A Paper Key
7. Mina Loy
8. Space
9. January

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

84 / 100
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