It is often difficult to discuss newer releases from legendary musicians without addressing their prior efforts. When the legend in question is a talent with the expansive body of work of Thurston Moore, the challenge is particularly daunting. From his staggering catalog of frenetic fretwork with innovative rock leviathan Sonic Youth, to countless collaborations with legends in the improv/avant garde/ experimental scenes to his solo gems, Psychic Hearts, Trees Outside the Academyand Demolished Thoughts, Moore has shown that he is consistently prolific, pioneering, and fearless. What’s refreshing about his new outing at the helm of Chelsea Light Moving is Moore’s ability to incorporate so many elements of his prior work into a project this invigorating. Through ten great songs, the band proves adept at melding the melodic and the dissonant, alternating the uplifting with the pugnacious, and making it sound effortless and fun along the way. As a result,it is easy to review the self-titled debut from this new band on its own merits, if for no other reason than because this record is so audibly engaging from start to finish.
Chelsea Light Moving begins with “heavenmetal,” a gentle, soulful song that concludes with the mantra “Be a warrior… and love life…” before giving way to the jagged, infectious “Sleeping Where I Fall.” These opening songs showcase the under-appreciated range of Moore’s voice and the deft drumming of John “Pegasus” Moloney, who shifts gears from timekeeper to wrecking ball in the span of the disc’s first eight minutes. Moore is complemented on guitar by Keith Wood of Hush Arbors, and the two are enjoined in battle throughout the album, particularly on “Alighted,” and “Mohawk, and “Lip.” The former features a serpentine intro that gives way to a distorted assault that is simultaneously steadied and propelled by the nimble-fingered, bass wielding Samara Lubelski. Moore and company pause briefly for a lyrical interlude before building to an amazing crescendo worthy of any era in his storied career. “Empires of Time” is yet another highlight; a pop song intertwined with wake-the-neighbors thrash and a “found sound” sample bemoaning the influence of capitalism on an otherwise positive scene.
In their entertaining bio, Chelsea Light Moving indicate that they are “ready to detonate any birthday party, wedding or hullabaloo in any country, planet or stratosphere...” They recently backed up the promise in Haydenville, MA by playing the birthday party of a young fan named Trevor. One can imagine that this detonation also included standout tracks such as “Burroughs,” (a tribute to author and poet William S. Burroughs) and the sweat-inducing punk rock of album closer “communist eyes,” written by luminaries Darby Crash and Pat Smear. Hopefully the band has many hullabaloos yet to come. If this debut is any indication, Chelsea Light Moving have what it takes to make many more entries in Thurston Moore’s storied discography.