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Album Review: Thrice - Major/Minor

Thrice have always trodden their own path, trusting that their fans will move with them and, for the most part, they have benefited from this single-minded focus on evolution. Whilst elements of their experimental ‘Alchemy Index’ EPs represent the biggest sonic departures from their original weighty noise, it was previous album ‘Beggars’ that most keenly polarized opinion. A much more straight-ahead rock album than their previous output, many loved their chosen direction but there were those that thought that it lacked the intensity that always characterized Thrice’s full-length offerings.

From the off, though it mines a broadly similar musical vein, it is clear that ‘Major/Minor’ is a more disquieted record than the aforementioned. Certainly, no longer would you call Thrice a metal band but they still have their heavy moments, even if such moments are a little more considered these days.

Opening track ‘Yellow Belly’ starts up with a riff that kicks and grooves in equal measures, setting the pace for the rest of the song and its impassioned chorus. Singer Dustin Kensrue sounds grittier than before, an edge to his voice lending this already fine opener extra fire and fervor. ‘Promises’ carries on in much the same vein, Kensrue’s voice delivering passion aplenty as the instrumental wends its way through a melodic, fidgety verse line and works its way up to a seemingly measured chorus that still rocks surprisingly hard.

‘Blinded’ retains the momentum, starting off with what could be mistaken for Brit-pop in it’s opening guitar riff before a classic Kensrue vocal line lights up the chorus, while ‘Cataracts’ is something of an rarity in the Thrice canon with its predominantly major chord progressions.

‘Call It In The Air’ is, in the first instance, a mite more delicate, cleaner guitars driving the verse through to conclusion before the chorus really begins for turn the screw; likewise ‘Treading Paper’, which tip-toes in with the soft twang of guitar and a mournful vocal before hitting another groove just as fine as that of ‘Yellow Belly’. ‘Blur’, however, ups the ante, opening with frantic guitars that give way to softer, still somewhat uncomfortable tones for the verse before the fire re-appears for the pre-chorus preceding a rousing half-time refrain.

‘Words In The Water’ again boasts a fine chorus vocal line, and while follower ‘Listen Through Me’ is arguably one of the less memorable tracks on the record, plodding slightly ponderously along the now well wrought quiet/loud template without a killer moment to take it to the next level, ‘Anthology’ is an uplifting gem of a song that will sink its hooks into any frontal lobe lucky enough to cross its path.

Final track ‘Disarmed’ seems like something of a comedown after the euphoria of the former but is the perfect closer providing perhaps the best atmosphere of any track on the record. Paraphrasing the ‘Death, where is thy sting? Grave, where is thy victory?’ passage from Corinthians seems appropriate, demonstrating not only Kensrue’s religious bent but also that his lyrical content remains reassuringly fixated on matters of life, death and the unknown.

If ‘Major/Minor’ has a problem it is that there are too few truly killer moments in the 11 tracks to quite elevate it above being merely a good album. That is what it is, a good album; it’s almost a very good one but Thrice are masters of their craft and though these songs bear witness to that, it hinders as much as helps them. In the end, those life-affirming moments of pure audio pleasure, the ones that lodge themselves in your brain are simply too few and far between.

One can’t help but feel that ‘Major/Minor’ doesn’t quite reach heights it aimed for, but only since Thrice have consistently set themselves and their peers such high standards. In real terms, it’s impossible not to recommend this record as a fine example of song craft and melody. One thing is certain: few bands of Thrice’s generation are ageing so gracefully…


'Major/Minor' is released on September 20th through Vagrant Records.

Nick Worpole

Alter The Press!