From the off, Thurston Moore’s fifth solo album seems like a posturing, macho affair; a rock and roll anachronism, even, filled with lengthy guitar epics. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find something of substance.
Thematically, ‘Rock N Roll Consciousness’ focuses on love and nonviolence in a way that’s not the idealised notion of hippies at Woodstock. This album also acts as the tense, darker counterpart to Moore’s 2014 LP ‘The Best Day’. Take the deceivingly placid ‘Exalter’, for example, which soars into a sprawling 11-minute long opener that veers from woozy and psych-tinged to outright malevolence.
Contributions from My Bloody Valentine bassist Debbie Googe and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley put us on familiar ground. And while Moore’s tamer, quieter moments on 2011’s ‘Demolished Thoughts’ were compelling, retreating back into the comfort of noise here is a good move.
On that note, ‘Rock N Roll Consciousness’ succeeds most when it’s melodic but noisy, and it’s the nuances that make this album as captivating as it is, like on the gentle melancholy of the beginning of ‘Turn On’, which clashes brilliantly with the skewed, belligerent ‘Aphrodite’.
Unsurprisingly, this is not an album full of Sonic Youth songs, but the usual hallmarks are still there – unusual guitar tuning and unorthodox time signatures – with Moore still going a good job of utilising a sound that defined him and then experimenting with it.