Not for Thurston Moore, grand architect of alt.rock with the seminal Sonic Youth, the retirement cottage named Dundronin’. Since Sonic Youth split in 2011 in the wake of his separation from wife and band-mate Kim Gordon, Moore has kept the band’s scratchy experimental post-pop torch burning on solo releases and collaborations with the likes of Yoko Ono and John Zorn.
This fourth solo album is a back-to-basics affair, recalling the relentless one-chord garage churns of early 90s Sonic Youth albums like Goo and Dirty on its two lengthy front-loaded drone monsters, albeit with a canny political undercurrent (Speak To The Wild) or a savage romantic poetry (the 11-minute Forevermore). Tape, all menacing arpeggios, is so old-school it documents the lost art of making a mixtape. You half expect to shake yourself out of your hypnotic daze to find John Major in power and Marathons on every newsstand.
The album’s latter steps follow less well-trodden paths, mind. After an angular mid-section – the title track nods to the swampy pop noir of Mark Lanegan and Detonation imagines The Fall doing atonal politico-krautpop – pastoral elements creep in, making Grace Lake a thing of misty, elaborate grit and beauty that builds into the two-minute wail of a drowning ambulance. Accessibly challenging, this isn’t Moore’s very best day, but it’s up there.