New Thermals Album Doesn’t Cut It

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now-we-can-seeweb After releasing their equally sprawling and well-contained gem “The Body, The Blood, and The Machine” nearly three years ago, Portland band The Thermals are back with a decent new album that unsurprisingly falls a little short in quality from the last album. With “The Body, The Blood, and The Machine,” The Thermals intelligently and often sarcastically used direct New and Old Testament references to explore major topical issues and feelings that were in the air at that album’s time of release. The band’s new album “Now We Can See” released on their new record label Kill Rock Stars (after five years working on Seattle’s Sub Pop Records) still retains The Thermals’ speedy punk riffs and energetic drums and bass lines, but without the allegorical wit shiningly presented on their last album. Songs on the new album including “Liquid In, Liquid Out” show that the band can make a song with the same structure and style as early Weezer, but that sounds bigger and a little better.
The band certainly deserves credit for being able to put out albums that sound so full when there are actually only three members in the band, founding members guitarist/singer Hutch Harris, bassist Kathy Foster and new drummer Westin Glass (formerly of Seattle’s Say Hi). Songs like “We Were Sick” are clever and entertaining: “We were sick/ Sick in the brain/ Too young to kill/ Too old to contain.” The Thermals write songs using “we” and speaking for the listener more than in the first person singular common in lyrics, but they still make songs that sound deeply personal. Though “Now We Can See” isn’t anything to get excited about, The Thermals are still one of a few post-punk bands that are making music that is both loud and fast as well as bright and a bit amiable.

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