Beck produced Thurston Moore’s latest, and it seems strange that the two mop-topped, baby-faced ambassadors of alt-rock hadn’t met on record before. But Demolished Thoughts was worth the wait. An album of deeply psychedelic unplugged love songs, it’s the Sonic Youth singer’s most surprising solo outing yet. Beck’s Sea Change is an unavoidable point of comparison—both are swathed in strings and droning guitars—but while that early-’00s masterwork offered an emotional mainline into its architect’s wounded psyche, Demolished Thoughts makes good on its title by mining typical Moore territory: abstract poetry that eventually congeals into a sticky hash-ball of searching, sexuality, and sadness.
Over the drifting strum and buzz of “Space,” he cruises distant galaxies looking for precious metals to steal. On “Orchard Street,” Moore talks of immortal kisses, searchlight eyes, and free-jazz hotels, as violins swell to a gorgeous orchestral skronk. Adopting a mournful tone for “In Silver Rain With A Paper Key,” he gently coos, “You lost your lover,” though where she went is never clear. Moore’s opacity is offset by the album’s consistent aural disposition—a heady, autumnal folk sound worth getting lost in for longer than Demolished Thoughts’ 45 minutes. Earthy songs like “January” and “Illuminine” are brightened by splashes of harp, and most unfold slowly over five to seven minutes, toying with mild dissonance and generous beauty. The album seems beamed in from the early ’70s, and probably should’ve happened in the ’90s, but as modern psychedelia increasingly becomes the domain of electronic music, Demolished Thoughts feels right on time—an organic reminder of what can happen when a couple of analog geniuses sit down in a room together and hit “record.”