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By the Fire by Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore

By the Fire

Release Date: Sep 25, 2020

Genre(s): Experimental, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Experimental Rock, American Underground, Free Jazz

Record label: Daydream Library

82

Music Critic Score

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By the Fire

Excellent, Based on 6 Critics

AllMusic - 90
Based on rating 9/10

One of the things that made Sonic Youth such a powerful entity was the supernatural chemistry of the bandmembers. At various peaks of their collective powers, each player brought a distinctive voice that rose to an even more elevated form when combined with the others. Extracted from that chemistry, Thurston Moore's solo material gives a better view of his conflicting tendencies, with seventh proper solo album By the Fire embracing both noisy, chaotic tangents and the blurry impressionistic poetry that has long been the core of his songs.

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musicOMH.com - 80
Based on rating 4

Despite a long, varied and highly engaging solo career, Thurston Moore will forever be known as the primary vocalist and songwriter of one of the most influential bands of all time: Sonic Youth. Since their implosion in 2011, Moore has kept himself busy by replicating the sound and experimental edge of his old day job. His albums veer sharply between blasts of harsh metallic noise, to oddball indie rock, to studied, thoughtful folk – particularly on the Beck-assisted Demolished Thoughts.

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The Line of Best Fit - 80
Based on rating 8/10

References to fearlessly out-there cult jazz icons Alice Coltrane and Albert Ayler, and the album mission statement's talk of 'rainbow energy' (which provides a primer for the often unabashedly florid poetics of the lyrics, many of them written by London poet Radieux Radio) might make you prepare or brace yourself (depending on your tolerance levels for gnarly noise freak-outs) for a dose of the experimental improv instincts ever-prolific Thurston Moore frequently indulges in his numerous side projects. Although a number of tracks expand and stretch out well past the 10-minute mark, By The Fire remains free of wanton noodling. Even the vast mass of chiming and growling guitars and busily galloping hi-hats on the album's sole instrumental "Venus" sounds thoroughly purposeful, whilst also coming across as totally untamed; an uncompromising slab of (mainly) guitar-generated noise that resembles a more palatable, even strangely beautiful version of Lou Reed 's famously difficult feedback opus Metal Machine Music.

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Pitchfork - 78
Based on rating 7.8/10

In the nine years since Sonic Youth played their final show, the members' solo projects have taken various elements of the band's sound and run with them. Whether with her noise duo Body/Head or the stylized future-punk of last year's No Home Record, Kim Gordon has eagerly played the experimental jet-setter, while Lee Ranaldo has embraced his standing as Sonic Youth's resident beatnik on his wistfully melodic and psychedelic solo outings. But for those fans who just want the jams to run free forevermore, we have an impressive string of albums from Thurston Moore that essentially amount to Sonic Youth on steroids, reimagining the group as the sort of fearsome, festival-rockin' workhorse that could theoretically lay waste to crowds at both Bonnaroo and Unsound with equal aplomb.

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The Quietus
Opinion: Fantastic

The demise of Sonic Youth came just at the point when the venerable noiseniks were scaling new peaks of brilliance. Both Rather Ripped and The Eternal deserve to spoken of with the same reverence as the earlier material that made their name. Still the music that's followed by the band's members has proved to be equally satisfying. And while it's probably a romantic fancy that the albums released in Sonic Youth's wake have egged each of them on (the quality of the music has been on an undeniable upward trajectory), it's with By The Fire that Thurston Moore goes properly into orbit.

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Dusted Magazine
Opinion: Very Good

Photo by Vera Marmelo Thurston Moore's seventh solo album reconvenes the ensemble that made Spirit Counsel and nudges them Sonic Youth-ward. His core band of Deb Googe, Jon Leidecker, James Sedwards is back, with alternating drummers Steve Shelley and Jem Doulton, but this time instead of diving into prolonged, instrumental free-for-all, the music coalesces around songs. Most of the elements that made Sonic Youth compelling — the alternate tunings, the preternatural guitar clarity, the dada-ish lyrics, the crunch and roar of rock — are in place here.

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