Crossing the ocean brought the influential rocker a new wave of creativity 

“Permanently? I don’t know what that would mean,” says Thurston Moore, laughing. The 56-year-old singer and guitarist of the legendary alt rock band Sonic Youth is not referring to the potential length of the iconic band’s hiatus, which began when Moore split with wife and longtime bandmate Kim Gordon in 2011. Rather, he’s considering whether his recent relocation to London might not be temporary. He does know that the move across the ocean put him in a creative place he’s thoroughly relishing. The first result is his latest solo album, The Best Day.

“This is the first record I’ve done living where I’m something of an alien as an American,” he says. “I focused on writing songs with the idea of making a solo album, and I let things happen where a band came together. I wasn’t sure whom I would play with. I was going toward things that I felt were positive and good-natured. It was easy to do that in London—there were a lot of beneficent vibes there for me.”

The band that evolved includes guitarist James Sedwards of British space rockers Nought, bassist Debbie Googe of My Bloody Valentine, and Sonic Youth’s drummer, Steve Shelley. “Steve heard James and me doing some duo guitar stuff when he was touring with [Sonic Youth’s] Lee Ranaldo’s band, the Dust. Steve was into what we were doing, stepped in, and really elevated the record.”

The Best Day is a departure from Moore’s last solo record, 2011’s more experimental Demolished Thoughts. In between, he recorded with a different set of musicians under the name Chelsea Light Moving, which released a self-titled record last year. “That, for all intents and purposes, could have been a solo record, but I wanted it to have a band name,” says Moore.

Musically, the new album often dips into recognizable sounds echoing different moments in Sonic Youth’s career—from scratchy punk to muted melodic passages to soaring jams.

“I have a sound that’s typical to my playing or singing,” explains Moore. “There are always new emotional expressions. Though I have no interest in replicating what I’ve done in the past, there are motifs I like that are signature. I love hearing that in other musicians, I love seeing it with filmmakers, I love reading it with writers and poets. These motifs are calling cards of sorts. I hold onto that. I feel that is something personal to me.”

–Linda Laban

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