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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Thermals - Now We Can See

Now We Can See is the document of a band that's grown up a bit. They moved from Sub Pop to Kill Rock Stars, which I'd imagine is part of the reason why they went three years between releases. The band has gradually mellowed from the ferocious, lo-fi attack of their infancy back in the early 2000's, a development especially evidenced on this record. That said, maturity hasn't yet gotten the best of Hutch & Kathy and company. While my first impressions of this album were less stellar, it's a grower. Repeated spins have been beneficial.

2006's The Body, The Blood, The Machine took on organized religion, grabbing you early and refusing to let go for the duration. Now We Can See lacks the same kind of amped-up power chord glory that its predecessors have reveled in. Maybe the more relaxed tone of this record is meant to reflect the greater calm of death; if The Body, The Blood, The Machine was the midst of a war, Now We Can See is the fatalities making small talk.

The lead single (and title track) is nothing short of infectious. If you don't "oh ey oh oh woah oh" during that song at least once you either a) don't have a soul or b) don't have a pulse.

Not everything is here is so instantly catchy. The first couple of times I listed to "At the Bottom of the Sea," I wasn't a fan of the plodding first half of the song, but eventually grew to appreciate it for the epic build that occurs thereafter. Now it's one of my favorites here.

Overall, this album fails to match the same level of passion and immediate reward of TBTBTM, but multiple listens reveal an album that while perhaps not quite as good, is not dwelling too far below the high water mark. After a band puts out a great album, it is unrealistic to expect them to follow it up with a release that is equally as good. Given this rule of tempered expectations that I have adopted, I will gladly accept Now We Can See as a more-than-satisfactory offering of awesome.

The Thermals - Now We Can See

Buy 'em up:
Kill Rock Stars


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