March 4th, 2013 2:00am
Be A Warrior And Love Life
If you spend a lot of time listening to a particular artist over time, you become very well acquainted with their default patterns, rhythms, and tones. Thurston Moore’s patterns locked in by the late ’90s; he’s been playing variations on a fairly limited set of themes with Sonic Youth and on his own ever since. This isn’t a complaint, it’s just an observation. I love Sonic Youth so deeply that even the least inspired Moore noodlings and strums will feel warm and inviting to me. I’m a mark for this, make no mistake. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel disappointed by his new band Chelsea Light Moving, and the sense that he’s just sorta jogging in place, and working with musicians who aren’t doing much to push him out of his comfort zone.
Sonic Youth is amazing because the default patterns of each member complement each other so perfectly, but with this band, you get default Moore without that added complexity. I don’t mean this as a slight on the other members of Chelsea Light Moving – they’re perfectly solid players, but listening to the record, I just get the sense that they’re too psyched to be playing with a living legend to actually collaborate with him or challenge him in a meaningful way. So the record ends up sounding pretty good overall, but only really great when they get out of his way and let him be loose and chill on a song like “Heavenmetal,” which probably would’ve been a lot more rigid and a lot less wistful if it had passed through Sonic Youth. The punky stuff doesn’t do as much for me, maybe because it feels more nostalgic than urgent. Hearing Moore sing “be a warrior and love life,” perhaps as advice to himself, seems more true in this moment.
Buy it from Amazon.