Thurston Moore - The Best Day

Rumour held that The Best Day was Thurston Moore’s return to electric-fried rock after diving into acoustic-led Americana on his song-orientated solo records of 2007 and 2010. In truth, the rumours are a significant overstatement. For sure, the amplifiers are on but they’re barely humming, let alone laying down anything approximating the neck-breaking outer reaches of guitar potential with which Moore made his name. The Best Day reinforces the impression that he’s confining his noisier outbursts to the deluge of limited edition improvisations he releases - anything up to a dozen LPs each year for the past decade - with no particular desire to splice his experiments back into these ‘pop’ statements. Some of the ear-pricking raucousness Thurston gave to the black metal Twilight project earlier in 2014 might not have gone amiss.

That’s not to say there aren’t rock-joys to be had; the first twenty minutes are a skittering, enthralling sleigh-ride through the wintry soundscapes of 'Speak to the Wild' and 'Forevermore' – long songs made lithe and fleeting by the shifting patterns underlying Moore’s cryptic declamations. Unfortunately, everything else feels like afterthought – albeit of oft-beauty - as the album settles into metronomic rhythm guitar strums and picked patterns that demonstrate the unity of the band but conceal few surprises. We’re half way through instrumental 'Grace Lake' before a guitar cuts loose from the group-think – a transcendent moment breaking the gentility for barely a minute and a half – after which proceedings resume until 20 seconds of scorchmarks usher the album to a close.

Lyrically, there are no open-heart confessionals regarding the ups-and-downs of recent years, nor much resembling wise observation from alt. rock’s elder statesman. Instead, Moore confines himself to the beat poetics he’s been polishing for decades. His voice is certainly underrated; his breathy tones exude warmth matching perfectly the instrumental domesticity that pervades - but this is a Sunday album for a quiet friend, nary a teenage riot in sight.

Overall

6

out of 10

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