The cover of Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore’s Psychic Hearts (originally released in 1995 by DGC) is a perfect metaphor for the album. Particularly noteworthy is the image of the cute, trashy woman who’s carrying a gun in one hand and a baby in the other. The cover is illustrative of two points: (a) This is a nothing but a Sonic Youth album without the rest of the band, and (b) this is Thurston Moore exploring the realms of pop music by pulling from his “softer” side.
The fact that this album sounds like a Sonic Youth record is in no way a bad thing. When a member of a band releases a solo record, I usually want it to sound substantially different from the band’s material. But Psychic Hearts follows a different path and transcends expectations. It’s not only a solid record, but it also proves why Moore is such a dominant force within Sonic Youth and independent rock music. The further I delve into this album, the more I see why people are still talking about it eleven years later.
The explosive guitar-hooks present in “Queen Bee and Her Pals” and Moore’s approach to experimentation in the twenty-minute instrumental “Elegy for All the Dead Rocks,” which staggers all over the place like a drunken buffoon, can be seen as the foundation of Sonic Youth. (Note: The CD version of the reissue comes without any extras; the double LP contains five bonus tracks.)
Psychic Hearts is embedded in history as the Sonic Youth side-project that everyone remembers, but it still seems to have collected a lot of dust in peoples’ collections. It’s probably because it’s easier to get pleasure out of listening to an actual Sonic Youth record instead. But Psychic Hearts is important because it isolates Moore’s talent, and this reissue serves as a reminder of his impact on modern experimental music — that without him there would be no Daydream Nation in the Library of Congress, there wouldn’t be thousands of kids in their garages playing guitars with unrecognizable, dissonant tunings.
Psychic Hearts does manage to explore Moore’s more accessible side, but that’s not what’s significant. What is significant is its influence on the underground. This is further proof of Moore’s role in changing the face of modern music.
Universal Records Web site