Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Moore turns inward and turns down, which works to his advantage.
  2. Trees Outside the Academy sparkles with an eclectic (yet accessible) sound that has my early vote for Album of the Year.
  3. It caps it all off to be as blunt, open and insightful as you would expect from someone you're now on first name terms with.
  4. 80
    The material is of consistently luminous order. [Oct 2007, p.90]
  5. 80
    You’d be even more surprised to hear that it features 'songs'--proper, beautiful, well-crafted songs.
  6. Not only did Moore record Trees Outside the Academy with some of his closest friends, but the album's good-natured sprawl is so appealing that it makes its listeners feel like friends, too
  7. Whilst Trees Outside The Academy isn't quite as breathtaking as it could/should be, especially given the niggling-feeling that Moore didn't give the album 100% of his attention, even when he had a fresher formula at his disposal, it does contain some consistently strong material that complements as well as outshines his best latter-day Sonic Youth wares.
  8. That Trees Outside the Academy is more accessible than Moore's usual output is a fair assertion to make, though there are facets innate to his music that seem sure to prevent the gangly guitarist from ever crafting an album of pure pop.
  9. Trees Outside The Academy is a relaxed, organic record that charms without really trying, and perhaps the closest Moore will ever come to the lost Moby Grape album. [Sep 2007, p.57]
  10. The Sonic Youth ringleader goes at it acoustically, far from his customary cacophonic experimentation, forming a venturesome trio with the Fleeting Skies' Samara Lubelski (violin) and SY's Steve Shelly (drums) and giving his lyrical verve the latitude it deserves.
  11. It’s all very organized, almost bucolic; there are only a few blasts of noise.
  12. The CD, recorded last spring, is a collection of tunes that sound more groovy than gritty.
  13. Trees might be at its best when Moore gives into the freewheeling vibe that is the natural outgrowth of spending your adult life engaged in on-stage jam sessions.
  14. Trees Outside The Academy is a masterclass of prog drugginess, brimming with sweet melodies and lullaby choruses.
  15. Trees Outside the Academy is, in fact, a song-based album--and they're good songs, too.
  16. It doesn’t pretend to hold a candle to the big-dogs and game-changing double albums that cacophonised your youth, nor does it want to.
  17. Still, there's plenty of Moore's signature rock action here--from the incendiary 'Wonderful Witches' to the languidly paced guitar jam of 'Silver Blue'--to make Trees a facinating subplot in the continuing story of Sonic Youth. [Summer 2007, p.76]
  18. There is high-speed dirt ('Wonderful Witches') and driving psychedelia (the title instrumental), but the most avant-garde quality of this record is its gentle assertion of detail.
  19. Trees Outside the Academy, as a whole, is not the musician’s best work, but it’s worth the listen for anyone interested.
  20. Ultimately, Trees Outside the Academy will most likely be remembered as Moore's most personal solo album, not because he sang with anymore emotion than anything he did with Sonic Youth, but because within its twelve songs he tackled many facets of music that interest him.
  21. There's still clamor; it just happens between songs. The rest is honest to goodness pop.
  22. The album allows acoustic guitar to be the rule more than the exception. And the sublime melodies on 'Never Day' and 'Honest James' shine. Naturally, you can't take the boy out of art-school.
  23. The overall feel is Sonic Youth Unplugged. [Oct 2007, p.106]
  24. 60
    He doesn't stray far from his main band's template. [Oct 2007, p.108]
  25. Trying too hard to mimic his band’s tried-and-true telepathy with only karaoke-level results, it's easy to see he thinks he’s run out of ways to experiment.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 12 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Joe
    May 24, 2009
    Such a nice album, much better than Psychic Hearts.
  2. AlanS.
    Sep 27, 2007
    PURE SONIC LOVE! A real evolution in Thurston's style mixing rock, folk, acoustic noise with a wonderful lyrical dimension that is refreshing and never boring at any stage... Full Review »
  3. zoodude
    Sep 27, 2007
    A fine album. The guitars sound beautiful and the songwriting is pure quality. It's a relatively quiet affair but Moore still rocks out on a few occasions. This solo effort avoids self-indulgence and pretentious experimentation in favour of a more direct and melodic approach, with great results. Full Review »