Where would music be without Sonic Youth? Founder Thurston Moore made the uncool cool with detuned guitars and trauma-filled vocals that anywhere else would be laughed at – alternative wasn’t the thing to do yet. For his fourth solo album The Best Day, he’s teamed up with My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe, Chrome Hoof’s James Sedwards and fellow Sonic Youth star Steve Shelley, and once again produced a record filled with style and charm.
Beginning with a single solemn, minimalist riff, ‘Speak To The Wild’, Moore soon brings in his backing band to step the track up a bit. Midway through the 8 minute opener, Sedwards and Moore both treat us to a battle of the 6-strings that seems like it’s never going to be won but soon enough the repetitive chord patterns return you to the familiar sweet but melancholic melodies. Following the slow to start pattern is love song ‘Forevermore’ with a dejected bassline that antagonises the blissful vocals of Moore. Without fail another breakdown sees both guitarists take centre stage to take over with repeating chord patterns and intermittent riffs until the predicted return of the forlorn, lovesick cries of ‘That’s why I love you forevermore’.
Moving away from his play safe arrangement, ‘Tape’ opens with an erratic entanglement of eastern melodies and percussion before the homecoming of American acoustic blues. Autumnal clashes of chords bring the track to a close and are soon replaced by electrics and a contrasting western feel in title track ‘The Best Day’. ‘Detonation’ goes much grungier than the rest of the album with murky riffs layered with assertiveness and confidence.
With disconcerting creaks and chirps harmonising with the equally as unnerving acoustics, ‘Vocabularies’ has so many opportunities to make a lasting impression but the reluctancy to take those chances leaves the track feeling slightly lacklustre. ‘Grace Lake’ makes up for the previous gloom with a whole load of overdrive and punching force from the drum kit that can’t help but reminisce back to the Sonic Youth Days. Continuing the jangly melodies, closer ‘Germs Burn’ doesn’t completely disregard Moore’s expertise in alternative punk-rock with avant-garde flourishes but brings them along for the ride to end the album on a brighter note than when it began.
Thurston Moore has moved on from his days fronting Sonic Youth. The little arty flourishes and attention to detail on the record are what’s separated him from the hardened times of Daydream Nation. The Best Day isn’t revolutionary or ground-breaking but it’s Moore finding where he’s most comfortable and lucky for us that’s the best sounding place for him to be.