Rock n Roll Consciousness
Once hailed as an innovator in the world of indie rock, Thurston Moore now finds himself having to reckon with the weight of his own musical legacy.
For many (this reviewer included), Moore will forever be associated with the pioneering work he did with Sonic Youth back in the ripped-denim 90s. With his latest release, Rock n Roll Consciousness, Moore voyages out into the great unknown without the safety line of his past.
The album’s opener, Exalted, however, has Moore wavering in his commitment to this cosmic mission. Its referencing of ’60s psychedelia, Eastern drone, and Lou Reed-style swagger points to a lack of confidence in Moore’s own creative voice. The end result amounts to not much more than a mash-up of various musical styles. It is the sort of postmodern tinkering that rankles the purist within.
But despite this inauspicious beginning, there are redeeming qualities to be found on the album. What at first seems like pastiche becomes something else entirely after a second listening. Cusp is a great case in point. With my guard up, I was ready to be appalled by an endless stream of recycled material, but far from being outraged, I found himself getting caught up in the song’s anthemic grandeur, with its wall of screeching, dissonant sound. Without doubt, this is the standout track on the album.
While I still have misgivings on songs like Turn On, with its insistent drone, there are number of arresting moments peppered throughout the album. Remarkably, on an album driven by such propulsive force, these moments come when the noise dies down. One such highlight is the intro to Turn On, which positively beguiles with its delicately handled guitar work.
Despite some musical misconceptions along the way, Rock n Roll Consciousness is an album worth persevering with. Though I struggled with my own aversion to some of the album’s postmodern patch-working, there are enough sustained moments of pure musical joy to keep you in the game. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Thurston Moore’s own rock and roll consciousness is teeming with new ideas, but it does have its charms.