The Thermals

I first discovered The Thermals while driving home one night. I was scanning through a bunch of XM Radio stations, amazed at the variety and the lack of suck I was used to from terrestrial radio, when I settled on a station dubbed Left of the Dial. Being a big Replacements fan, I felt that was a good place to stop and listen for awhile. My ears perked up when ‘A Pillar of Salt’ started playing. I didn’t know who I was listening to at the time, but I was drawn in immediately. Perhaps it was the religious imagery or the driving guitars, but I immediately recorded the song and band name in my cell phone so I could figure out who these people were.

Now We Can See is the Thermals’ fourth LP and their first for their new label Kill Rock Stars after leaving Sub Pop. While it lacks the condemnation of faux-Christian zealotry that characterized The Body, The Blood, The Machine, the new album retains the pop sensibility that that makes them so damn catchy. This time around, the album is filled with a series of songs dubbed “post-power-pop,” under the premise that adding the word post- to anything instantly makes you better than what came before.  I think they’ve caught on to something here. The title track and first single ‘Now We Can See’ is probably the most infectious song you’ll hear this spring. You may have heard it in the opening scene of the season (hopefully not series) finale of Chuck.

From the handclaps to the chorus that practically commands you to sing along, it’s built to take up residence inside your head. Lead singer Hutch Harris’ vocal delivery remains the focal point of the music, with his thematically complex yet direct lyrics adding levels you wouldn’t expect from what  are essentially pop songs. Kathy Foster’s bass and back-up vocals remain a steady presence throughout the album. Rarely will you hear a band as honest and as telling as on a track such as ‘Liquid In, Liquid Out,’ an ode to the alcoholic in all of us. At just over a half-hour in length, the record doesn’t overstay its welcome and supplies a concentrated dose of punk-tinged indie rock that will get you moving.

The Thermals – Now We Can See
The Thermals – A Pillar of Salt


— , May 1, 2009    3 Comments

The guitar and the vocals rule. So far I’m really loving the thermals.

— Daniel, May 1, 2009

Hell! I haven’t listened to the Thermals since More Parts Per Million. They’ve come a long way. Sweet.

Sabrina, May 3, 2009

No kidding. That was the last album I listened to and it was so lo-fi it was shocking. There’s definitely a lot more gloss on this than anything else they’ve done, but it’s good stuff.

Kevin, May 3, 2009