Thrice - Major/Minor (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Major/Minor (2011)


Thrice have always been known for the bold stylistic shifts they've taken: from the thrashy skatepunk of their early work, to the ambient experimentalism of the Vheissu era, to the anything-goes mentality of their ambitious Alchemy Index project, to the stripped-down blues-influenced rock of the group's last full-length, Beggars. These radical changes have lost the group some fans along the way, but for the open-minded listener, it's kept things very exciting, adding a Forrest Gump box of chocolates "You never know what you're going to get" that accompanies the anticipation of every album. The group's latest offering, Major/Minor isn't as radical of a leap forward as we've come to expect from the band, but it is another interesting step in the evolution of a band that refuses to make the same record twice.

It seems that Thrice have finally found a sound they liked and stuck with it. For the most part, Major/Minor feels like the followup to Beggars, rather than a new direction. There are differences, most notably the heavier guitars found throughout. The biggest difference between Beggars and Major/Minor is that they've taken the blues influences from that album and replaced them with some good old-fashioned grunge (the ferocious riffing of album opener "Yellow Belly", for example). When these influences rear their head, it sounds much closer to an authentic 1990s Pearl Jam/Soundgarden creation than some post-grunge radio rock nobodies. The grunge vibe permeates through most of the album, but is most noticeable on the first half, particularly on "Blinded" and "Cataracts".

With that said, it would be easy to simply label Major/Minor a "grungy Beggars," but there is more going on here than that. The band still has a few new tricks up their collective sleeve, namely the post-rock/emo guitar noodling of standout track "Anthology", which sounds like nothing else in the Thrice canon thus far. There are also a few callbacks to past triumphs, "Blur" and "Listen Through Me" bring to mind 2005's Vheissu, in terms of both style and quality.

Vocalist/guitarist Dustin Kensrue still writes a great deal of his lyrics based on his Christian faith, most notably on the aforementioned "Listen Through Me", but as always, it is done in a way that seems personal and well-thought out, rather than preachy or condemning.

Nearly a decade-and-a-half into their career, Thrice continue to surprise their listeners. Although Major/Minor represents the most consistent that their sound has stayed from album to album, it is still a unique listening experience. With all the twists and turns that the group's musical direction has taken over the years, they've always had a style that is uniquely their own, and Major/Minor is no exception. If you're still holding out hope for a return to the Identity Crisis/Illusion of Safety years, this isn't the record for you, but if you've followed the band's evolution and stuck with them, Major/Minor is a rewarding and exciting listen.