Life must be pretty sweet when you’re Thurston Moore. You’ve outlasted and outshone pretty much all your late 80s/early 90s alt-rock counterparts. You’re a golden survivor. You’re aging with a grace rarely seen in the rock world, and show no sign of looking like any surviving member of The Who any time soon. You’re 51 and can still pull of wearing a plaid shirt, a band tee and Ray-Bans for Pete’s sake. You roll out of bed each morning, tearing yourself away from the sleeping form of your kick-ass, punk rock wife/bandmate, and you stare naked out of the window, surveying your glorious domain, thinking “hmm, what shall I do today? Leave my major label and join one of the world’s most respected indies? Lead the band in creating a disonant soundtrack for a French thriller movie? Guest on a covers album with Beck and Tortoise? Or record another bitchin’ solo album?”
In recent years, Thurston (with and without Sonic Youth) has done all of the above, and is finally getting round to delivering the final item on that list – his third solo album proper, entitled Demolished Thoughts. It’s been produced by Beck and is out on May 24th via Matador. Other than those cruelly tantalising details, we’d heard little else of the album until now.
“Benediction” became the first available track this week and my oh my is it a beauty. It’s a gentle, slinking, folky love song. Unusually tuneful acoustic guitar washes in with airy strings and a barely-there bassline to create a heady, swoon inducing atmosphere that – whilst perhaps unexpected – sounds totally natural for Thurston and his middle-aged croon. It reminded me of the fact that, underneath all the artful scrawl and disonance in Sonic Youth’s catalogue, Thurston Moore is one hell of a songwriter. Often, it just remains heavily understated, which is certainly does here. It might take a couple of listens for the wandering, slightly aimless acoustic beauty of the track to really wrap itself around you.
He’s come a long way from his 1995 solo debut Psychic Hearts, and this is even pretty far removed from the more laid-back moments on 2007’s Trees Outside the Academy, and I think that’s probably due to Beck’s involvement. You can hear a good few similarities here to Beck’s stuff like Sea Change. Whatever he’s done in the studio, it’s brought out a sublimely romantic and mellow side to Thurston.
I’m not sure if this is an indicator of the overall sound of the forthcoming Demolished Thoughts, but if it is then you won’t find me complaining!
Thurston Moore // Benediction [mp3] from the forthcoming Demolished Thoughts