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Where has the time gone? It feels like only yesterday that The Thermals‘ debut album, More Parts per Million, was released, and The Body, the Blood, the Machine was blaring in every record store and being listed on nearly every “Best of” lists in 2006. Now after 14 years, Hutch Harris, Kathy Foster, and Westin Glass are back with album number seven, We Disappear.
The question that always accompanies a band with such a lengthy discography and time in music is, “Can they make music that satisfies long-time fans while appealing to the sensibilities of a younger generation of listeners?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Not only that, We Disappear is essentially a compendium of their entire history, filled with blazing garage and art-rock and anthemic punk-pop songs that touch upon everything from love, vulnerability, and ageing (or a nod to the end of one’s youth).
But what has gravitated people towards The Thermals is that their songs are made to be heard live. The energy with which the trio perform their music live is translated and felt on pretty much all of their recordings, and We Disappear is no different. The one-two punch of “Into the Code” and “My Heart Went Cold”, for instance, opens the album with a bang, featuring some awesome guitar hooks and great bass lines, especially on the latter. The bombastic “Hey You” is a fist-pumping, head-thrashing number, and it is a reminder that The Thermals can release a great thrasher. “In Every Way” is another reverb-heavy, head noodler made for a live venue.
“If We Don’t Die Today”, “Always Never Be”, and the closer, “Years in a Day”, display themore melodic, pop-rock side to the band. But unlike their past forays into this genre, which were greeted mostly with indifference, The Thermals ebb back on the bubblegum approach and just rock out or, in the case of the latter, create more of an atmospheric number. “Thinking of You” is the best of the bunch, which sees the band head back to their early days and reinterpret the punk-pop of the ’90s. It’s a great track that at times appears Hutch Harris is channeling his best Ben Gibbard impersonation while playing a track that echos The Meicies.
While some may say that The Thermals aren’t exactly reinventing music, but then again do they need to? We Disappear is a return to form for the band, reminding us that the Portland-based trio are not just still relevant but still among indie rock’s great, if not underappreciated, bands.
We Disappear is out now via Saddle Creek Records. Follow The Thermals at:
Featured photo by Jason Quigley.
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