Friday, April 24, 2009

The Thermals Got It Right

While The Thermals's third album, The Body, the Blood, the Machine, condemned listeners to Hell with its Christian-fascist theme, Now We Can See promises them nirvana, or at least some sort of hope. The Thermals's fourth full-length, Now We Can See, was released on April 4th, introducing more rollicking sing-alongs into the band's discography. With an overall joyous sound, despite the occasionally somber subject matter, The Thermals now tackle the topics of life, death, and the acceptance of life and death. With lyrics such as "We were high! We were alive! We were sick!" being joyfully yelled on the album's second track, you can kind of get a sense of the optimistic, glass-half full message Now We Can See is moralizing. The signature sound of lead singer, Hutch Harris's distinctive shouts and the charged guitar Kathy Foster wields to assail listeners with wild riffs also contribute toward the creation of an album the band says is "totally post-power-pop." Surprisingly, this information only proved to me that The Thermals's latest is very similar to their last album, The Body, the Blood, the Machine. Without the "locust tornadoes, crosses, and Nazi halos" and other prophecies of doom that is. 

The few differences between Now We Can See and past albums are that it is less punk, more uplifting, and contains "At the Bottom of the Sea," a nearly six minute track that turns out to be the only pacifying song by The Thermals I have ever heard. This definitely does not help make their latest release the greatest or most distinctive album to date, but I am not sure whether or not I criticize or encourage that fact. Now We Can See is perfect for Thermals fans who have enjoyed the last albums, but it merely gives them thirteen brand new songs that sound strangely familiar. I enjoy this raucous band's catchy tunes but I am drawing the line after this record. No more of the same after this, Thermals...

Nevertheless, I do commend the band for proving that consistently good music will trump the competition. This is a refreshing thought, considering the fact that the latest fads in the music industry, including synthesizers and lo-fi production, are being adopted by many bands and usually are not improving their music. The Thermals, with their new album Now We Can See, taught me that bands do not always need new tricks up their sleeves to keep the music entertaining.

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