Thurston Moore brought an end to some longstanding things in 2011: After being caught in an affair, he separated from Kim Gordon, his wife of more than 25 years and co-founder of pioneering noise-rock band Sonic Youth—which, in the aftermath of the split, met its demise as well. Such breaks in life are rarely clean, however, and Moore’s first solo record following this personal and professional schism wisely embraces a little musical carryover. Backed by former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley (as well as talented bassist Debbie Googe of My Bloody Valentine), The Best Day distills elements of Moore’s early and recent work rather than forging yet another a new path. Far from being a patched-together, unprogressive retread, the album is a palpably invigorated blend of brawny, sprawling guitar rock and meditative, meandering arrangements.
This punchy aural amalgam is most evident on the title track, which rides along a driving, acoustic strum through classic-rock melodies and frenetic solos. Indulging in such riff variety continues in the 7-minute instrumental “Grace Lake” as bright guitar lines sparkle like glints on water while gradually building into a heavy, forceful feedback collage. As extended experimental excursions go, the track is agreeably more conventional than “Forevermore,” a vaguely sludgy cut that thuds along unremittingly for 11 minutes.
Of course, droning jams like that are Moore’s forte, and—despite mellowing out on his last solo record, 2011’s Demolished Thoughts—he pulls them off confidently and effortlessly. Though a number of genre fragments get swirled together in interesting fashions, The Best Day is not particularly provocative or demanding, nor accessible enough to bring in newcomers to his dependable fan base. But, in getting back in the saddle after a rocky couple of years, it’s enough that he’s got the energy and ideas to continue to evolve in worthwhile ways.