Chelsea Light Moving’s self-titled release marks the first proper LP that former Sonic Youth guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Thurston Moore has released since his 2011folk-inspired solo album “Demolished Thoughts.” For this project, Moore unites with guitarist Keith Wood from the band Hush Arbors, drummer John Moloney from the band Sunburned Hand of the Man, and bassist Samara Lubelski, who is a multi-instrumentalist and moderately acclaimed solo artist apart from Chelsea Light Moving. Moore takes a 180 degree turn from the stripped down style of his previous 2 solo albums by delivering a piece of work that is more stylistically in line with his much heralded alt-rock bravura.
As one expects from an album spearheaded by Thurston Moore, the album is brimming with dissonant cadences that run wild throughout the work, and the chords never quite seem to land exactly how one would think they would if they were expecting your average alt-rock tune. This mood works in a very grating yet oddly satisfying way. The album opens strong as the song “heavenmetal” serves as a very low-key, matter-of-fact introduction that effectively eases the listener into the album before the heaviness of the other tracks knocks them over his/her head. The second song, “Sleeping Where I Fall” is the album’s standout, as the band rocks a thrilling ode to paranoia and downward spirals that contains a noisy musical interlude that is among Moore’s best. The album drags in momentum a bit in the middle until the haunting “Mohawk” picks it back up and runs with it as Moore delivers a spoken word verse over a steady-picked guitar line and a John Cale-esque drone. The song clocks in at 6:51, serving as a sort of meditation piece.
Thurston doesn’t put on any airs of maturity for this outfit, despite checking in at a not-so-ripe 54 years of age. The record never tries to be musically ambitious, at least when compared to the band members’ previous releases. The release feels as more of a return to form for Moore than a sonically daring endeavor in and of itself. What this means is that while most of the songs are very well done, if a Thurston Moore fan expects to hear him venture on to different and more exciting things, they would be sorely disappointed. Some of the songs sound as though Pavement had a lovechild with Nirvana’s “Bleach” album. While this is surely an interesting combination, that says a lot about the attitude of a 54 year old songwriter that is still writing with the angst of a young man.
All in all, what the album lacks in forward thinking, it makes up for in energy, songwriting, and fire. I personally found the album more enjoyable the first time I listened to it than I did after the first couple of spins, but there is a lot to be taken from this album and it is surely worth at least one listen.