The Thermals

Personal Life

Written by: PP on 23/09/2010 22:22:30

To indie rock specialists The Thermals have been the real deal for about seven years now, but I happened to first discover them last year as a result of their fantastic album "Now We Can See". I've been in love ever since, and I can only recommend others to check out their earlier albums as well. That record, however, fused together garage-y punk rock and indie rock seamlessly, creating a unique sound comparable to no one in particular, but one where sharp readers could detect influences from past greats like Pavement or Ramones, but also from the quirkier side of indie rock like Modest Mouse. These are only nuances, however, as The Thermals have a sound that's very much their own, something their further fortify on their fifth album "Personal Life".

The theme of the record was supposedly to return to the dirtier and less produced sound of their 2004 album "Fuckin A", and so the band chose to record this record live, giving the songs a warm, fuzzy feeling. The guitars are vibrant and eccentric, and the atmosphere is quirky, but yet somehow the end result is the most polished outing by these guys to date. There's still a great deal of vocal distortion and screeching guitar helping out Kathy Foster's thumping bass-lines, but songs like "Never Listen To Me" come across as much softer and less direct than before. When compared to something like "I'm Gonna Change Your Life" or "I Don't Believe You", which are the opening two tracks from the record, the wonderful lo-fi garage atmosphere Thermals usually emit is reduced slightly. It's not a bad song, but I believe I'm not alone in finding the up tempo rockers somewhat better, mostly because the raw, no-touch approach to their overall soundscape is what makes The Thermals so successful. Well, that, and an uncanny ability to mash infectious vocal melodies to the heart of the fuzzy cocktail.

Overall though the changes are merely cosmetic, and in most cases almost invisible. "Personal Life" consists of the same garage flavored indie rock, and of the same unique vibe as last year's "Now We Can See" and the albums before it. It's a sound that's oh-so-simple on surface, but every additional listen reveals new detail and richness in their raw sound. What's more impressive though is that this is their third album in four years, and the quality still hasn't wavered a single bit during their career.

Download: I Don't Believe You, I'm Gonna Change Your Life, You Changed My Life
For the fans of: Pavement, The Hives, Modest Mouse, The Hold Steady
Listen: Myspace

Release date 07.09.2010
Kill Rock Stars

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