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Thurston Moore: Trees Outside the Academy

Thurston Moore: Trees Outside the Academy

Label:Ecstatic Peace
Release Date:2007

By Ed Schrader | Posted 10/10/2007

Imagine one of your favorite grade-school teachers went to work in a call center. You're the manager, and now have the awkward fate of being forced to conduct his 90-day review.

He scores poorly, and you're forced to tell him. That teacher is Thurston Moore, a man looked up to by what amounts to a small nation of students, and he hasn't lived up. His first solo release since 1995's Psychic Hearts, Trees Outside the Academy reveals it's a gem early with second track "The Shape Is in a Trance," a pretty yawn that curls around polished string arrangements and finishes with a signature "bring it on home" guitar solo you'd expect from him. But from there things get spotty. Tracks such as "Frozen Gtr" and "Honest James" have the makings of something special, but are curdled by tedious intros and acoustic-guitar maneuvers that sound like the popcorn we already ate. Moore's acoustic playing feels more organic when he relaxes a bit; on "Silver>Blue" and "Never Day" the string arrangements slap down some basic atmosphere, giving the unplugged guitar a place to wander.

Autobiographical lyrics offer up some needed juice on "Fri/End," a song that could easily be an homage to Kurt Cobain, with lines like "I feel your Love Buzz through me" and "oh how I love the smell of your charred remains." Coupled with previously mentioned down notes, the album's instrumental attempts on "American Coffin," "Off Work," and "Free Noise among Friends" zap the life from what would otherwise be a not-so-bad album. Trees as a whole feels like a collection of twangy halfhearted musings that suggest a substance that never fully congeals. Moore shows you the blueprints but never hoists the beams.

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