THE DEAL: Sonic Youth leader turns the noise off on latest solo outing.
THE GOOD: Thurston Moore's previous song-based solo record, 2007's Trees Outside the Academy, showcased the Sonic Youth legend in various toned-down-SY settings, most still peppered with electric guitars, percussion and occasional feedback. But at the far end of the quiet spectrum, Moore re-imagined himself as an acoustician, joined only by subtle string accents. Demolished Thoughts does away entirely with the electric guitars. Moore and his producer Beck envelop the melodic melancholy in cumulus layers of acoustic guitars, contrabass, strings and harp. The best tracks, like the intimate love song "Benediction" or swirling "Blood Never Lies," suggest a less dour take on Beck's dead relationship-lament Sea Change, or the Joe Boyd arrangements on Nick Drake's first two records. On a foundation of Moore's oddly tuned brushstroke-strumming, Samara Lubelski's strings flow over the melodies like updrafts, their sonorous long notes contrasting with the harp's plucked embellishments. Moore's still singing about time travel, sexual deviations, surrealist writers and whatever else crosses his quixotic imagination, but this quiet setting is as far from Confusion Is Sex as you can get.
THE BAD: The one or two songs that tilt toward traditional SY fall flat, the acoustic settings unable to sustain the droning attacks or noise breakdowns. Moore's never been the most compelling lyricist, either, and the occasional clunker couplet like "Thunder demons swipe her halo, then they run away" come off like bad Tolkien-based prog rock.
THE VERDICT: Not as intriguing as Trees, but Moore's quiet side has its own charm.