September 20, 2011 - Vagrant
This review originally ran in AP 279.
Given their armor-plated resiliency to changing musical tides, the wax-and-wane of popularity and the ever-entitled youth culture which demands everything be free and given to them at once, it’s pretty safe to say that there are only three givens in life anymore: death, taxes and Thrice. Now only a few hundred days away from celebrating their 15th anniversary, the band have delivered their eighth full-length, Major/Minor—and it is as exciting and enthralling a listen as anything Thrice have ever created.
Whereas 2009’s Beggars was a thrilling shot in the arm after the somewhat spotty Alchemy Index EP series, Major/Minor builds on that album’s live, loose feel and cranks up the rock factor significantly, while also recalling some of the more progressive, darker moments of 2005’s Vheissu (the Rhodes piano-assisted “Listen Through Me” and power waltz “Call It In The Air”). Thrice refuse to shy away from their hookier tendencies, though—the 6/8-time “Anthology” is a major-key rumble with thick, open chords and screeching guitar leads accompanying Dustin Kensrue’s fiery bellow (“And it’s true that you could snap my neck/But I trust you’ll save my life instead/’cause our love is a loyalty sworn”). “Blinded” is propelled by Riley Breckenridge’s reliable stickwork and some seriously insane, otherworldly guitar tones from Teppei Teranishi. “Blur” is the fastest song the band have penned in quite a while: That doesn’t mean you should expect “Deadbolt”-like fretwork, but it is an impressively aggressive number with a surprisingly fragile interlude.
Major/Minor is the most consistently muscular release from Thrice in years, and a huge part of that may be attributed to David Schiffman, who has produced similarly loud, grungy releases from Bayside (Shudder) and the Bronx (The Bronx III) while also having his hand in a number of poppier rock projects (Biffy Clyro’s Only Revolutions and Weezer’s Red Album). This is the first time the band have worked with an outside producer since Vheissu, and Schiffman serves the band well, guiding them away from their rootsier side (barring the soulful crooning from Kensrue which opens “Treading Paper”) and keeping the songs lively and energetic. Really, listening to Major/Minor is like watching those “Plays Of The Day” montages on SportsCenter—it’s nothing but highlights, stripped of excess fat, and presented in a way to get your heart pounding and your ass out of your chair.
Thus presents the album’s only, extremely minor dilemma—with nearly every song ratcheted into the red, it can be a slightly fatiguing listen at times. Vheissu shared that flaw as well, although that album dragged at times due to the weight of its self-importance, whereas Major/Minor’s only true crime is having too many good uptempo songs in a row. Luckily, when the band choose to go on a bit of sonic spelunking (the six-and-a-half-minute “Words In The Water”), it’s a gorgeous reminder that Thrice really can do anything, and that’s what makes it so much fun to listen to their records.