Thrice’s comeback review
As we all know, Tune Munch was conceived as a platform for the promotion of emergent talents and new sounds to satisfy munchies. But, if that’s true, how could a band like Thrice (with a 15 year career) could be featured in an article on here? The answer is as personal as solid: For me, there’s no better way to start writing about music (hey, this is my first post!) than reviewing the new album by one of my dearest bands, one that helped configure my hungry ears’ musical background.
If you don’t know Thrice, you better put yourself in context. Thrice were part of that musical movement which many 2000’s teenagers grew up with. They began as many bands in California, consistently touring around the States with their flat-out and heavy music style. In those years they released good albums which received positive reviews, with The Artist In The Ambulance (Island, 2003) being the culmination of that stage.
Many other bands would have remained at that point, doing what they dominated without risking too much, but not Thrice. Their following albums represent how a band should grow and mature along as its members, always trying to go beyond with a self-demand worthy of admiration. That allowed them to explore other paths going through enormously epic albums like Vheissu (Island, 2005), with others as complexly simple and honest as Beggars (Vagrant, 2009). By the way, they even had time to produce themselves releasing four conceptual EPs where they squeezed their creativity.
In 2011 they released Major/Minor (Vagrant, 2011), a huge record with grunge nuances which made up for their more mature album, lyrically speaking. That was their last reference since they decided to go on a hiatus a year later; pretty understandable if we take into account the how demanding a full-time band occupation can be in terms of pace and rhythm. But last summer, Thrice decided to end the break by announcing a tour, three years later, and leaving open the possibility of making new music. The hype was real.
TO BE EVERYWHERE IS TO BE NOWHERE
Intentionally or not, the first thing Thrice transmits in his ninth album is freshness, and it may have to do with the album title, inspired by Seneca’s famous words. Of course it has many interpretations, but maybe what they really needed was to establish priorities in their lives so they could focus on the best way to make music.
The album begins with Hurricane, which immediately makes us feel at home, and not only because of its Pixies’ vibe. It’s also a good example of Dustin’s vocal work, his voice sounding overwhelming and delivering as much strength as sensitivity.
The second cut and first single, Blood In The Sand carries us frantically to The Window, which seems like a very funny song to play live with its more than addictive rhythm and melody. Soul overtones -and even gospel ones- can also be found in Wake Up, which sounds like a jam although the album has been composed mostly with every band member separate from each other.
The Long Defeat is probably the most beautiful song so far this year. Tolkien’s influence in Dustin Kensrue used to be always present in his lyrics, but this album’s cuts seem to be filled with more direct and explicit content portraying social protest.
After Seneca, an instrumental track –probably a bit short–, we land oxygenated into the second half of the album with Black Honey. Lyrics open to free interpretation and raw sounds build up this song, the first one with its own video after a bunch of years. Stay With Me could be considered a classic ballad, the kind that just a band like Thrice knows how to fit in a rock album.
Death From Above is TBEITBN’s serendipity, although it was released a week before the album. It contains more than original ideas of rhythms and heavy guitars which fit together in a visceral way into the most complex song of the album, sounding smart as always. As the last show of force we find Whistleblower, sounding like a song from Vheissu ten years later, in which Thrice doesn’t seem to have changed so much. But the thing here is that they’ve done what really makes sense for a song which at first point could not be thrown into this album, so it’s kind of great that we can enjoy of such a variety of styles in only eleven songs.
The album ends with Salt and Shadow, a musically experimental song with lyrics loaded with contained emotion in the likes of Bon Iver’s last references. This song feels like taking the last breath after a hurricane has brought you up, down, forwards and then back again. If you’ve heard the album on repeat you’ll know what I’m talking about.
To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere is not only one of the band’s strongest releases, it’s also one the best albums of the year and one of the best comebacks ever. It’s a record that exceeds expectations as you lose equilibrium, feeling headaches while your soul is smiling. Maybe Seneca was right and Thrice are just helping us realize it.