By The Thermals
Everything's about context. If it's a fuck up an alleyway or a painting in a gallery, being in love or actually just being drunk, things can only be judged on their own merits. We all like to make our little top ten lists of bullshit but none of it means anything. As I type I am listening to The Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips-probably the most ambitious, wonderful, perfectly realised pop album in thirty years of music, for me. But some people can do ambition and some can't. The Thermals did Political Statements and Imagination. They couldn't really pull it off, but bless 'em for trying. Compared to the sonic outliers of musical adventurism like 'Ladies and Gentlemen' or whatever (insert sprawling 'quest for the NEW SOUND' album of your choice here), The Thermals new album sucks a big pile of balls. Compared to whatever edgy hipster bullshit trash is cool this week, it is conservative, lame as fuck, BORING. You know what it sounds like? Green Day if they had no money for production values and had a couple of Cribs albums. Passion and obsession equals ruined lives but great art. This is not great art.
BUT-and it is a great big fat fucking but of a but-it is 'pretty good'. You have to be what you are. One gets the impression that The Thermals were Nirvana fans who wanted to form a band. Those seventy two identical albums you know and love by Dinosaur Jr or whoever else, this sounds exactly like that. The Thermals are gonna tell you what it's like, being male middle class and white. As long as the band are self aware (and opener 'I'm gonna change your life' suggests they smell what I am stepping in) then a good record is a good record. If 'Personal Life' was gonna change your life, you would have to be a fourteen year old virgin with no decent records. But, to beat the same old drum I always beat, pop music is FOR virgins. Far, far better that The Thermals accept pleasant, 'Bandwagonesque'-esque mediocrity than they over reach themselves- as long as they are sincere. I'm arguing myself round in circles to justify liking this extremely conservative Amerindie punk record, but in twenty years when fashion has faded, this is the kind of simple record you keep coming back to. I had my first kiss to 'Live Through This' by Hole. I had been somewhat worried that I would never ever get to kiss anybody, and when it came it tasted of spraypaint and punk rock kids. So I am somewhat attached to conservative Amerindie punk albums. They give something to cling to when you find yourself sleeping with people you don't even fancy just 'cos you don't wanna go home till the MDMA has worn off, or when you lie awake listening to her breathe and wondering if you will be scared or brave at the moment of fucking bastard inevitable death.
Most people are mediocre. That is why mediocrity sells and U2 are so famous. But if you have to do mediocre, at least do it LOUD. 'A Reflection' reaches for the epic emotions and in its own simple way it hits the nail on the head. If you live a pointless little life but still feel the overwhelming rush of the inexplicable once in a while, and you wanna wave your arms in the air to something pretty, you could do a lot worse. The Thermals have figured out who they are, and they are a cracking little band.
Tony Wilson laid it down. TECHNIQUE IS NOT ART. I would rather listen to this boring crap than some guitar -wanking small penis hero any day of the week. At least it is sure of itself enough to not try and show off. And it has choruses! They know the jazz chords. They just like to play this bullshit.
SO, yeah. The Thermals new album. Pull quote? It's shit, but it's good. 7/10 and fucking proud of it. Nobody likes a smart arse, mate.