The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

Now We Can See

Kill Rock Stars

After 2006’s The Body, The Blood, The Machine, a dark vision of a future America under the rule of politicians and evangelists, it is tempting to search for an overall theme linking this collection of 11 new songs from The Thermals, especially with the frequent topics of death, the ocean, and evolution popping up throughout.

But maybe it’s just a nice collection of perfectly catchy, melodic punk, which is fine too. The production is much slicker, especially when placed next to earlier albums, but the better production results in a stronger sense of melody. The immediately catchy songs are an object lesson in just how good stripped down, basic pop songs can be. Hutch Harris’ straining, yearning vocals stand out against the crisp production, and bassist Kathy Foster’s increased vocal duties add a nice touch. The most remarkable song on Now We Can See is the five-minute plus “At the Bottom of the Sea,” a hypnotic ballad that fits nicely between the perfect pop of the title track (complete with super catchy “oh way oh” chorus) and the under two-minute rocker “When We Were Alive.”

While many bands attempt “maturity” by adding children’s choirs and lush instrumentation, The Thermals have exhibited stylistic growth over their four albums by mastering a tricky equation — how to create the perfect pop song while relying on basic song structure.

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