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
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
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.
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
11. Keep Time
12. Top of the Earth
13. Thank You Goodnight