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Monday, May 30, 2011

Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts: B+

While listening to Demolished Thoughts, I cannot help but think, “He would.” A guy like Thurston Moore, an integral part of one of the pioneering indie rock groups of the late 80’s, would write an album that sounds like a collection of acoustic pseudo-grunge songs. Listening to Demolished Thoughts, I am reminded of an excellently produced mid-90’s “MTV Unplugged” performance. I know such a description carries along with it many negative connotations, but it’s true. Demolished Thoughts is a beautiful album that always makes it clear from what era its maker comes from.

Moore’s voice on Demolished Thoughts sounds like J. Mascis at times, others like Marcy Playground’s Jon Wozniak. His notes trail off like Michael Stipe at a low register. He’s adequate and distinct, but quaint and unassuming. The album’s arrangements, however, more than make up for that. Demolished Thoughts is almost exclusively acoustic with a drummer, bassist, harpist and violinist providing the only accompaniment. Its songs are solemn but breathtakingly. First track “Benediction” is languid with swelling violin that comes in at just the right time. When his acoustic moves heavenward to accommodate Moore’s higher register as he sings, “You better hold your lover down,” it’s glorious. The whole album is filled with moments like these; songs so beautifully arranged that, by the end, Moore’s voice only gets a few lines in before the listener is transported back into this agreeable wonderland.

Demolished Thoughts ain’t all butterflies and The Sound of Music, though. Moore strums his acoustic aggressively on “Circulation”, a track that disseminates into booming darkness during its chorus. “Mina Loy” is also dark and an excellent exhibit of Moore’s versatile guitar playing. His work here may not burst into raucous solos, but there isn’t a moment when what and how he plays his six-string doesn’t contribute to the tone of the music.

I almost wish there were more moments like “Mina Loy” on Demolished Thoughts. As I mentioned before, by the end of the album, Moore defects most of his songs to instrumentals and this sometimes makes the tracks blend unintentionally. Still, it’s an impressive album that I don’t think anyone expected from this noise rock luminary, let alone expected to sound this good. What ultimately may be most important about Demolished Thoughts, is that it shows that, at 53, Thurston Moore still has something to prove. How cool is that?


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