The Thermals - We Disappear (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Thermals

We Disappear (2016)

Saddle Creek Records

We Disappear feels like the middle ground to 2004's Fuckin A and 2013's Desperate Ground. If you're a fan of The Thermals, there's a lot to read into that because you'll realize it's a solid blend of fuzzed-out, distorted rock and catchy, head-bobbing jams. If you weren't before, then consider this a great starting point. There's a vibrancy and bounce to this record, that while not the most outstanding in their catalog, still manages to creep up with a lot of legs that does more than enough to be considered right up there.

The Thermals infuse power and pop-punk in a way that fans of bands like Superchunk, Built To Spill and The Japandroids can connect with. Lots of lo-fi, amp-heavy reverb plastered over a series of tunes that feels like a band pumping out a garage demo. The hazy punk feel is felt most on their breeziest singalong melodies like "My Heart Went Cold" and "If We Don't Die Today" -- another forum for Hutch Harris to pour over the band's run-in with love and tragedy over the past couple years. He's as vulnerable as ever, clean on the mic, and lyrically at his strongest. Kathy Foster's bass carries so many of the jams as well as seen on "Hey You" -- made for beach rockers. They find a way of throwing in '70s and '80s rock flair so well while breathing so much jangly introspection into life told from Portland's perspective. 

The harsh, hard rock feel of "The Great Dying" is probably the most standout moment to me on the record. It's a left-field slow-burn of guitars cutting into your soul which adds a great contrast to We Disappear. The Thermals bookend things with another slow (yet not as searing) track in "Years In A Day" which unwinds in a tale steeped heavily in heartbreak and the pain of loss. This in particular unfolds another aspect of the band that is often overlooked and that's how dynamic/flexible/versatile they can be, when ready. They've lost this balance a bit in albums past but here, they get it right. The record's a bit front-loaded for me and some of the songs don't latch on as filler but overall, it's definitely worth the pick-up. Great stuff, as expected.