The Thermals - We Disappear (Republic Of Music)

The Thermals – We Disappear (Republic Of Music)

With their seventh record, the Portland natives offer a serious look at our troubled present and wrestle with the consequences it has on our doomed future.

It is incredibly hard to dislike The Thermals.  Over a career of 14 years and seven records they have created blistering guitar parts, fuelled on pounding drums and political beliefs that still frequent the record players of lo-fi punk fans the world over.  How disappointing it is then, that with We Disappear, whilst the same intent is present, it feels like a band who are running low on energy and even lower on the rapid fire, steadfast resolve that made them stand out for six records above the rest.

From the needle drop, it is clear that singer and lyricist Hutch Harris is wrestling with the same themes he always has: death, political disaster, heartbreak and growing old.  But unlike previous efforts, the lyrics don’t stick with the same tenacity they used to.  They’re not cliché by any stretch, but they don’t hit any of the hard truths that The Thermals are so good at revealing. With lyrics like “Into the code/We will survive/We will be whole/We’ll stay alive,” from ‘Into The Cold’, allowing us to understand that Hutch is concerned with our absorption into the digital world, but ultimately offering us no way to care as we stream the track over whichever music platform we choose.

It’s not that the fire is completely burnt out, but with every track coming in at the same BPM of just fast enough to justify the distortion and fuzz, the record becomes a slight burden to the ears – trudging through each of the 10 tracks looking to find things to cling to, rather than The Thermals of the past offering you a slice of lived-in wisdom you didn’t know you ever needed.

The Production work of former Death Cab for Cutie guitarist and Portland virtuoso, Chris Walla, ensures a record that sounds crisp in its multiple layers of fuzz, spikey snare, and snappy bass on standout tracks like ‘Thinking of You’ and ‘Heart went Cold’, but ultimately feels flat as a whole, due to a straightforward presentation of ideas that ring out as a band who have been at this for 14 years and are starting to feel a little older.

This is by no means a bad record.  There are sing-along moments; signature “Whooooo hooooos” and – above all else – Hutch’s unique voice and delivery.  It is, however, the album of a band playing it safe; something The Thermals never were.

‘We Disappear’ is available now, released on 25th March 2016 through Republic Of Music.

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