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The Thermals - More Parts Per Million


Review: Jack Foley

ARRIVING at breakneck speed - much like the formation of the band itself - The Thermals' debut album is a fast and furious affair, with enough flashes of brilliance to suggest that they could be headed for great things.

Cramming 13 songs into a tight 27-minutes, The Thermals deliver tiny shots of adrenalin which, played as a whole, sound pretty similar, but which heard individually, bear all the hallmarks of another US punk-pop success.

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, as apposed to New York, The Thermals are Hutch Harris (on vocals), Kathy Foster, Jordan Hudson and Ben Barnett (on bass, drums and guitar, respectively).

They fall into the 'classic Sub Pop' territory, boasting distorted guitars, drums, bass, and vocals, all of which collide into short, sharp distorted pop songs.

Compared by many to Guided by Voices, the album also evokes memories of The Strokes, The White Stripes and even early Idlewild (particularly during third track, No Culture Icons), which is no bad thing.

It's just that, owing to the breakneck speed at which the album rushes by, you barely have time to take breath, or distinguish one song from the next.

Only a handful really stand out, such as No Culture Icons, which could easily become a successful single, and the opener, It's Trivia, which boasts some great guitar riffs.

But too many others fall into the same routine - simple bass and guitar chord progressions and crashes of drums and cymbals - which seem to go nowhere fast.

The DIY sound certainly exposes the album's roots (it was originally recorded on a four-track cassette recorder in one of the band member's homes), making it a raw record that provides a near-perfect insight into what the band would sound like live.

One can only wait and see what happens when they finally reach the stage in their career when they can rely on 's.e.d.i.f.y.' (someone else does it for you).

For now, though, More Parts Per Million marks an intriguing insight into a band we might well be hearing a lot more from in the coming years.

Track listing:
1. It's trivia
2. Brace and break
3. No culture icons
4. Goddamn the light
5. Out of the old and thin
6. I know the pattern
7. Time to lose
8. My little machine
9. Overgrown overblown
10. Passion feeling
11. Back to gray
12. Born dead
13. Endless supply

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