The Thermals - We Disappear

by Nathan Fidler Rating:6 Release Date:2016-03-25

The sound which The Thermals pulled off with such lazy perfection is one which will forever be something of an underground favourite to the kind of person who has underground favourites. Seven albums in, We Disappear appears on your radar and you instantly remember the simple rhyming patterns, the zippy but safe riffs and hope for the best.

The best Thermals albums are the ones with a loose concept, such as those on More Parts Per Million and The Body, The Blood, The Machine so on first listen this new album can be disappointing. If you were to try and hang a limply concocted theme to this collection of songs it might be that they all appear to be about the end of a relationship in some way, but since that’s the usual fare served up in music it feels a bit cheap.

Reliable as ever in lyrics and melodies, Hutch Harris is still in good form and the first few tracks on the album serve to fill the hole which no other band can quite fill in the same way. ‘Hey You’ is the peppy, bounce-on-your-toes stuff, with constant crashing cymbals getting your blood pumping. Meanwhile, ‘Into The Code’ holds a triumphant menace, only slightly spoilt by the swirling guitar mess as the end.

It’s not often you can feel let down by a band trying different things (as long as it’s not a stadium grabbing attempt), but for The Thermals it might be the case that there isn’t much beyond what they managed to achieve while on Sub-Pop. ‘Thinking Of You’ is as simple as things get, throwing in the catchy “whoah-oh, whoah-oh” on the chorus. Little else is memorable, but at the same time nothing about the album is truly terrible.

‘Years In A Day’ is the closer and offers a glimpse into where the problem lies: the energy. This final song drags itself to an end, and while there isn’t a specific aspect of it to dislike, it brings proceedings down ('If We Don't Die Today' and 'In Every Way' being two main culprits), reminding you that this album has passed you by without the old indie-angst which served them so well before.

In fairness, years have gone by since the albums mentioned towards the top of this piece, and The Thermals have pushed on with every album, but even the production here feels stodgy, resulting in a lack of crispness to their sound. Despite the slightly muffled feel between your ears, you’ll still feel the nostalgia kick in - maybe throw The Body, The Blood, The Machine on afterwards though.

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