Thurston Moore's new band, Chelsea Light Moving, delivers everything one would expect from the guitarist, post-Sonic Youth. Moore is no stranger to sideline endeavors: In addition to his solo albums, he has collaborated with everyone from Yoko Ono to DJ Spooky. As if to cement his place in the canon of mid-'90s alternative sainthood, he even performed in the Backbeat Band, the supergroup formed to promote the Beatles biopic Backbeat, alongside the likes of REM's Mike Mills and Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli.
Though eclectic, Moore's career to date has been informed by and anchored in Sonic Youth. There, Moore could depend on the husky growl of Kim Gordon (his now-former wife), with whom Moore shared songwriting duties, to provide counterweight to his own lyrical delivery, which is alternately whispered, purred, or brattily sneered and rarely, if ever, rises above the emotionality of nonchalance.
While this dynamic never appeared to hinder Moore's expression, Chelsea Light Moving proves that Moore is still willing and able to map new aural territory. The extended tracts of guitar noise from Sonic Youth are still there, but they are delivered with more glam-rock confidence and seasoned with more spices, like the metal crunch with which "Groovy and Linda" is peppered. Moore has already built a formidable career in the off-kilter lyrics and damaged guitar jangle of Sonic Youth. SY fans need not worry, as these are on full display in Chelsea Light Moving.
Sonic Youth always felt more like an art project than a band: rock-star posturing as commentary on rock-star posturing. In Chelsea Light Moving, Moore has made it clear that he wishes to continue a career of deliberately confounding. It is never quite clear how seriously Moore takes any of it, but it is seriously good.