By a Thread - By a Thread (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

By a Thread

By a Thread (2011)


Revelation Records has only released a couple studio albums in the past five years or so. But one supposes that when they were offered the chance to issue the new album from a beloved alumni of their own, they jumped at it. That alumni is By a Thread, late '90s post-hardcore/rock (the way the press release puts it, and it's definitely agreeable) who branched out from the members' prior band, Strain, with influences from the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate and Sparkmaker. The band hasn't released anything since their sophomore full-length, 1999's Last of the Daydream, so how does this new one hold up?

Opener "Fashion" begins immediately with a straight-up, electronic dance beat. It's pretty surprising, especially when it only secedes somewhat when the full band kicks in. The vocals follow, and they have an iffy, grating nasal quality to them. Then the good, crunchy chorus swings through to pleasant effect, and it's actually more radio-friendly than Rev's catalog had in quite a while. That generally sets the tone for the rest of the record: big, hard rock hooks and alt-radio ambition. If Walter Schreifels were to form a way more radio rock extension of one of his bands (Rival Schools?), it feels like By a Thread might be the result.

While the band can be pretty decent at that–"Dive In" has an energetic hook, while even the most passive listeners should be singing along to "Tomorrow's Gone" at some point–something about a hearty 48 minutes of the stuff gets old at some point midway through the album. "Between the Takes" uses this one guitar part that sounds just like the bridge in Transit's "For the World", strangely, so that's an interesting moment. But from there, the album's relatively dull until its most experimental track, "Frame", a very cool, sludgy shoegaze number with tasteful falsetto vocals.

By a Thread's self-titled third record definitely has its moments, but it drags far too much in places. This is hardly a terrible effort, but it's not the radio hit it definitely wants to be at times, and not much of an underground classic comeback either.

Between the Takes