Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 21/4
To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
Written by: AP on 16/09/2016 06:20:23
When Thrice, one of the most celebrated alternative rock bands of the naughties, began its long planned hibernation in the summer of 2012, it was unclear if their disciples, teary eyed of course, would have to come to terms with permanent loss. After all, the Irvine, CA -based quartet was no less than eight albums into an illustrious career at the time, and 2011’s “Major/Minor” was more than worthy of shouldering the weight of a swan song. I remember the group’s concert at the 2012 edition of the Belgian Groezrock festival as a childishly sentimental affair, so you can imagine the euphoria when, two years ago, Thrice emerged from their hiatus to play a handful of reunion shows and eventually confirmed that a new studio album was in the making. That record materialised, rather fittingly, at the onset of this past summer, and as it tends to be with artists for whom ones has a deep personal affection, coming to grips with it has been an intensive, time-consuming process.
To me, the quintessence of Thrice is the band’s appetite for writing tunes that are seldom obviously catchy, yet still manage to etch lasting hieroglyphs into your mind’s chambers. The tradition of rarely resorting to a cheap trick carries over to this comeback outing, “To be Everywhere is to be Nowhere”, as well; the brunt of its memorabilia is derived from lyrical depth, inspired musicianship, and a characteristically strong vocal performance by frontman Dustin Kensrue. “The Window” is a telling example, as even without the devilishly effective chorus, the song would have no trouble melting into the hippocampus. The song is immortalised the moment Riley Breckenridge catches you off guard with one of his clever drum fills; the moment Kensrue chimes in with ”All that I’ve known’s within the walls of this room where there’s a window, roughly boarded up. It’s true, the gaps are patched, but even through the tiny cracks I feel the wind blow, I see a light of strangest hue.”; and when Teppei Teranishi steps forward to discharge a noisy, heart-wrenching melody in the post-chorus. Or how about the way the band performs a stylishly muted iteration on the first verse instead of reusing its blueprint?
Elsewhere, the anguished metaphor that is “Black Honey” emerges as one of the finest songs in Thrice’s repertoire hitherto by invoking to perfection the contrast between understated and moody bits, and crashing, metallic chords that made “Vheissu” a masterpiece. The track is the prototype lead single, centered around the one chorus you are guaranteed to be parroting as soon as Kensrue lets rip with that powerful, strained voice of his:
”I keep swinging my hand through a swarm of bees. I can’t understand why they’re stinging me? But I’ll do what I want, I’ll do what I please, I’ll do it again ‘till I’ve got what I need. I’ll rip and smash through a hornet’s nest. Don’t they understand I deserve the best? And I’ll do what I want, I’ll do what I please, I’ll do it again ‘till I’ve got what I need.”
But although the album most resembles the aforementioned “Vheissu” as well as the quadruple opus “The Alchemy Index”, there is novelty present, too. Whilst listening to any of “Hurricane”, “Wake Up”, “Stay with Me” or “Whistleblower”, your thoughts are likely to wander in the direction of Finch; big, radio-friendly chops full of uplift and soaring, arena-size singing that are likely divisive choices even if the execution is perfectly satisfactory. The four tracks have the potential to establish Thrice as a much bigger band, but for long standing fans such as the undersigned they are likely to leave a bittersweet aftertaste.
Indeed, even as a metalcore/post-hardcore hybrid in the early years, Thrice’s closest allies have been distress and melancholy, and those might be under the threat of extinction now the band has begun to dabble in writing larger-than-life anthems that shun some of the subtle complexities for which the four musicians are revered. Certainly picks like “Blood on the Sand”, “The Long Defeat” and “Death from Above” are far more enticing candidates for repeated listening and that divide, I suppose, is what causes the mixed feelings I have been experiencing each time “To be Everywhere…” has been in the speakers. The record cuts a clear dichotomy between the older style to which I, and I imagine many others, have an emotional attachment, and the ideas that are certain to significantly grow the band’s fanbase.
Download: Blood on the Sand, The Window, The Long Defeat, Black Honey
For the fans of: As Cities Burn, Brand New, Finch
Release date 27.05.2016