When Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon announced their divorce after 27 years together, thus ending Sonic Youth’s existence, it took a while to sink in. You see, this was a band that not only helped shape alternative rock as we know it but throughout their lengthy career they rarely put a foot wrong. You only had to look at their last record, 2009’s The Eternal for proof that they were still fully committed to their music and still managing to put other bands within their sphere to shame.
So now that Sonic Youth was out of his life, what was the next step for Thurston? The answer was simple: form a band that resembles 99.9% of his previous outfit. Chelsea Light Moving are just one of a handful of projects that Moore has been working on in the past year – he has even formed a black metal band, the humorously titled “Twilight” – but with the former he is sticking to the more traditional format we’ve come to expect from him all these years.
The melodic opener “Heavenmetal” acts more as a precursor for the following track, “Sleeping Where I Fall”. Although the latter does not make an immediate impact, before you know it the distortion pedal kicks in – almost like a mission to obliterate one’s speakers. At nigh on eight minutes, “Alighted” is a slow-burning grungy number, which at the halfway point, twists and shudders, immersing itself into pure noise. You wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you’d been told this was an unsigned grindcore band’s demo. A much-needed change of pace occurs with “Empires Of Time” and “Groovy Linda”, though that doesn’t stop this outfit’s mammoth sound. “Lip” is by far the best Iggy Pop impression anyone has attempted this side of 2000 – garage rock at its most sublime. “Burroughs”, the first single to be released by the band, is perhaps the closest we get to your average Sonic Youth track. It’s still very discordant and unhinged, plus it manages to find its way around a great song structure. The same could be said for “Frank O’Hara Hit”, notably the first two minutes recalling the hazy and dreamy moments of “Sunday” from 1998’s “A Thousand Leaves”. Only one slight downside comes with “Mohawk”, an instrumental with some spoken word sampling taking the lead., which somehow jars with the flow of the rest of the record. Thankfully, the closing track “Communist Eyes” is punk rock fury, recapturing the spirit of Minor Threat.
Some may question the value of this record, given the wealth of Sonic Youth’s back catalogue and the fact they have already demonstrated perfection. But at 54 Thurston Moore still wants to put it out there and if a better straightforward rock record emerges later this year, it will have to be an absolute blinder to match up to this stunning effort.
Stream the whole record here: http://www.npr.org/2013/02/17/172096457/first-listen-chelsea-light-moving-chelsea-light-moving