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The Thermals - Fuckin A


Review: Jack Foley

IT SEEMS like only five minutes ago that I was contemplating the merits of The Thermals' debut album, More Parts Per Million, which arrived last year to some considerable acclaim.

Well, the Portland three-some are back and very little has changed.

The songs are still fast, furious, punk-rock affairs, full of scruffy guitars and edgy vocals that pay homage to the likes of Guided By Voices and Idlewild, while also evoking memories of Buzzcocks and Wire.

But, just as with the first album, there is an over-reliance on the same things - simple bass and guitar chord progressions and crashes of drums and cymbals, which quickly become tiring.

With More Parts Per Million, you were willing to forgive its raw excesses, largely because it was a debut effort, and hinted at bigger things.

Fuckin A, however, marks something of a standstill - a lazy, uncreative and quickly tiresome long-player, which blends together so that each new track sounds exactly like the last.

Singer, Hutch Harris, says that the title, Fuckin A, describes the band's world perfectly: "It conveys the intensity of the music and the passion of the lyrics, with the mouth of a 12-year-old."

This maybe so, but there are times when you think a bunch of 12-year-olds could have just picked up a couple of guitars and indulged in a jamming session in daddy's garage, such is the raw nature of proceedings.

It comes as no surprise that the album was recorded and mixed in all of four days (at Avast Studios, in Seattle, by Chris Walla), given the throwaway nature of most of the tracks.

The band probably turned up, sang, and went and got a beer.

I listened to it three times before I realised that I had got to the end, each time, and had failed to pick out many tracks.

And that's not just because of its tight, 28 minute running time!

Opening track, Our Trip, is a suitably fired up opening salvo, which really comes close to the Idlewild sound at its finest, and How We Know benefits from slowing things down a little - it's the closest the band gets to a love song ('you spill water like love, now we'll take it').

But you have to wait until Keep Time, the penultimate track, to really find anything else worth pausing to reflect over.

The rest just blend into one another to create a fiery blur. It's rather like the musical equivalent of a hangover - throbbing, unrelenting and, eventually, draining.

 

 

Track listing:
1. Our Trip
2. Every Stitch
3. How We Know
4. When You're Thrown
5. Remember Today
6. Stare Like Yours
7. Let Your Earth Quake, Baby
8. God and Country
9. End to Begin
10. Forward
11. Keep Time
12. Top of the Earth
13. Thank You Goodnight

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