Anything with Thurston Moore’s name on it will be good for something that is, at the least, sufficiently abnormal. For this, I am grateful; let me preface the rest of this review by saying that I’ve never been crazy for Sonic Youth, at least not over the bands who owe them a sizable sonic debt. So, consider mine to be an outsider perspective: The raw, au naturel dissonance, angular guitar melodies, and apocalyptic riffing on this eponymous debut are a pleasure. I don’t really miss Kim Gordon, and while Moore’s snark still seems silly at times, this is truly a coolfreakin’ record that reflects on both the past and the present in both its music and writing.
Roots in punk and metal are the beating heart of much of the sounds present, even when the band is reeling it in dynamically. “Groovy & Linda” may be my favorite track, reminding of Slintand causing jitters with a gnarled refrain that pleads “Don’t shoot; we’re your children.” In fact, much of the record’s interest lies in what’s being said: The antagonistic, incendiary look towards punk culture in “Lip” (“Get fuckin’ mad/Too fuckin’ bad”) and the peacenik motto in opener “Heavenmetal” (“Be a warrior and love life”), for instance, are powerful lines that transform the songs in which they live. This disc is a piss-veined stare at the world it inhabits, arriving at a time where many seem unwilling. As well, it’s not short on moments of musical interest: “Mohawk” is a never-ending vamp supplemented with acerbic spoken-word poetry and a peaceful, post-rocky guitar-lasagna; “Frank O’Hara Hit” sandwiches horrifying, fuzzy doom between slices of warped indie rock; “Alighted” brings riff after ugly riff before eventually giving way to a paralyzing fuzz-storm, clocking in at just under eight minutes. Make your way straight to this record if the polite, sentimental sounds of commercial indie have left you starving for someone to say what you’re thinking—Chelsea Light Moving screams it and then goes on to shed blood.