Punknews.org
The Thermals - Desperate Ground (Cover Artwork)

The Thermals

The Thermals: Desperate GroundDesperate Ground (2013)
Saddle Creek

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

To the casual observer, The Thermals might seem like a one-trick pony. While their brand of power-pop punk uses a "keep it simple, stupid" approach, they have made a conscious effort towards subtle changes from record to record. In recent years, their poppiest effort, 2009's Now We Can See was follo.
iTunes StoreAmazon


To the casual observer, The Thermals might seem like a one-trick pony. While their brand of power-pop punk uses a "keep it simple, stupid" approach, they have made a conscious effort towards subtle changes from record to record. In recent years, their poppiest effort, 2009's Now We Can See was followed by the slightly-disappointing but necessary divergence to a slower, more restrained set on 2010's Personal Life. Even The Thermals need a breather now and then.

On Desperate Ground, their first for Saddle Creek, single and opener "Born to Kill" offers us a brand of Thermals with a harshness we haven't heard since 2004's Fuckin A. The tempo is back in their wheelhouse, the vocals are dirtied up with distortion, and the lyrical content is well, darker, than the themes of love and relationships from their last outing. Drummer Westin Glass, in his second album with the trio, gets more chances for flourishes in this speedier set, offering up more fills and details than when bassist Kathy Foster was sitting on the kit in the studio.

"I Go Alone" is an obvious favorite, with Hutch Harris' knack for giving us chorus bits easy to grab onto and sing along with: "The path is all I see / It's the only wayyy / I can bring you back to me." This and "The Sunset" aren't exactly pedal-to-the-metal, but the aggressiveness and grit are turned up. "The Sword by my Side" is drawing from a similar lyrical well as Now We Can See, leaning on their favorite tidbit from that album: "when I die." "Where I Stand" ups the shouting quotient a bit and loses some melody, but then "Our Love Survives" ends the set like a remnant of Personal Life from its lyrical content to mid-tempo groove.

While Desperate Ground is neither their harshest nor catchiest record but it's close on both counts. This batch of tunes has got enough of everything The Thermals do best to satisfy their die-hards (who might call it a "return to form") and would even be a good jumping-off point for new fans. Another enjoyable release from the Portland trio.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Masked Intruder - Masked IntruderOperation Ivy - Operation IvyRancid - ... And Out Come The WolvesCaptain, We're Sinking - The Future Is CancelledSurfer Blood - PythonsIron Chic - Not Like ThisPropagandhi - How To Clean EverythingScreeching Weasel - Anthem for a New TomorrowRVIVR - LP [12-inch]Bad Religion - Suffer

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
strumz (May 3, 2013)

pretty darn good

i-type-poorly (April 20, 2013)

"Every other online review I have read on this album has been negative." - i think that goes for just about all their albums. They don't leave very good first impressions. If it's anything like the last two, I'll find it pretty meh, then 8 months later swear it's complete genius.

davebrave4 (April 19, 2013)

Makes sense. I always wondered....

greg0rb (April 17, 2013)

Pop punk is faster, ya goof. So I combined 'em. Power-pop punk. Faster, grittier power-pop.

davebrave4 (April 17, 2013)

What is the difference between pop punk and power pop?

telegraphrocks (April 17, 2013)

The way the vocals are recorded just sounds like total shit.

thenewpope (April 17, 2013)

the production on this one seems a little off to me, and I still say he sounds just like Atom and his Package/ Mountain Goats when he sings, but it's still pretty decent. prefer their Sub Pop stuff myself.

EchosMyron (April 17, 2013)

Every other online review I have read on this album has been negative. The only Thermals album I`ve ever really been into is Fuckin A.

misterspike (April 17, 2013)

This band can do no wrong. Solid album and review.

bandgeekmafia78 (April 17, 2013)

This is catchy and good.

ZappBrannigan (April 17, 2013)

Excellent review! I feel pretty much the same way (again...). I've really enjoyed the progression of their albums and Desperate Ground holds another great spot in their catalogue. It didn't initially floor me, partly because the music itself doesn't really diverge or continue in a newer direction, it's just sort of a unification of everything they've done before. Thematically it's great, and it grew on me significantly in a handful of listens; I'm really liking this step in wherever it is they're going. Can't wait to see them again in May!

Exclusive Streams

Sponsored


The Fest 13

Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Other Places to Go