The Thermals – Now We Can See


The Thermals – Now We Can See (Kill Rock Stars; released March 10th, 2009)

This fourth album from The Thermals has thoroughly convinced me- I fucking love The Thermals. Hutch Harris has found the perfect balance for his unique voice on this album. The sometimes over-the-top grating whine that kept them in the “love-hate” and “guilty pleasure” categories for me for their first 3 albums has developed into a really beautiful sound. I have never been able to sit and listen to an entire Thermals‘ record over and over before, but since I brought home the vinyl of Now We Can See, I have been flipping it over and over nonstop, taking it all in.

The songs on this album are longer than the older stuff, but not at the cost of the pop hooks that make The Thermals so fun. I pretty much don’t ever want to stop listening to this record. This afternoon, I was ranting about how much I like this record over IM with my friend Meighan (writer of tremendously amazing blog, My Love For You Is A Stampede of Horses). I asked her if she likes The Thermals and she said, “Is it punk? I don’t listen to punk anymore. It reminds me too much of being a kid. I feel like I’m denying my roots, but it’s true. There I said it.” My response, knowing that she is a fan of The Mountain Goats, was, “Wellllllllllll…. kind of….. but that’s not really a fair way to describe it. Do you like weird voices like John Darnielle?” When she said yes, I sent her a million links to Thermals’ songs and she said, “Oh wow. I LOVE them! Thank you!”

I think that sort of sums up my relationship with this band… the first three records were good, sure, but they felt like they hearkened back TOO much to the days when I was at a show every night, silk screening homemade patches for my favorite obscure pop-punk bands and dying my hair with manic panic. And while that era will always have a place in my heart, I’m 33 years old now (well.. almost) and it almost doesn’t seem honest to blast snotty punk rock anymore. And here comes Now We Can See and it’s all grown up! And not in that horrible “please god don’t let me turn out like my parents” way but in that “I might have a ‘real’ job but I still have a Ramones button on my jacket and the kids at shows don’t think I’m a nerd” way.

The Thermals are just as fun as they’ve always been but I feel like I can totally take them seriously now. They’re coming to SF in May.. I got my tickets today.. I”ll be sure to check back with you about the show.

My favorite new addition to The Thermals‘ sound: Kathy Foster throwing in some vocals!!!  The combination of Hutch and Kathy‘s voices is just… well… totally perfect. Why’d it take you four albums to do this, guys?! (Listen to I Called Out Your Name to hear this!)

My fave song: When We Were Alive