Chelsea Light Moving – “Chelsea Light Moving”

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Chelsea-Light-Moving

It can be tempting to read a lot into this album, since it’s Thurston Moore’s first major move since Sonic Youth dissolved into a tepidly scandalous divorce.  Following a mid-life crisis that broke up both his marriage and his band, this new album represents the direction he wants to push his career in.  Chelsea Light Moving answers that the direction he’s moving in is circular.  It’s certainly spotlights his long-standing tendency towards heavy guitar work built on high gain and feedback.  The tone is angry, although as per usual it’s a very diffuse anger whose target is unclear.  It’s reminiscent more of the tone on Washing Machine or the heavier parts of Daydream Nation than it is of Rather Ripped or A Thousand Leaves, however; it’s guitar work that snarls through the gutter, levitating on its own squeals.  It makes Chelsea Light Moving into a Sonic Youth record made in a world where Lee Ranaldo and Kim Gordon no longer exist, a dark world where Moore is free to follow whatever Sabbath/Flag blackness he wishes.  Personally, that makes it a winner:  Moore was always my favourite part of Sonic Youth, and Kim Gordon’s meandering, flat-voiced passages always left me a little cold.  The problem, though, is that Moore very rarely leaves his comfort zone here; he rehashes his best Dirty moments but doesn’t use this new chapter of his life to say anything new.  It leaves Chelsea Light Moving feeling like it ended up being less than it could have been; instead of progressing, it simply feels like Moore ends up wallowing in his own sullen quicksand, thrashing about in the same patterns until he becomes stuck.  It sounds great, but it ultimately goes nowhere.

FINAL MARK:  B-

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