“Are you ready for my soul?/What if I’m broken from the start?/And what if I never heal?” lead vocalist Dustin Kensrue, of Thrice, sings on the sixth song on Palms. This outpouring of emotion is what we have come to expect from Thrice over the years, but the honesty and earnestness of Kensrue’s delivery feels different with this great album. Thrice have a back catalog of albums that most artists would be envious of, and on their ninth studio album, they could have gone in any number of directions. The most important course for Thrice has always been forward, as they have improved upon their unique brand of rock as they continue to evolve as artists.
The first song, “Only Us” finds Kensrue pondering when society will eventually just get fed up with the current landscape, and not be afraid to break the mold. On lyrics such as, “Finally when will it be enough/To find there’s no them/There is only us,” it’s almost as if Thrice is giving us a direct call-to-arms to say: enough is enough. The electronica elements found throughout this LP are a welcomed addition to the Thrice sound that was tinkered with on The Alchemy Index, as well as the more recent To Be Everywhere, Is To Be Nowhere album.
Guitarist Teppei Teranishi is as sonically mesmerizing as he’s ever been on these ten songs, as he knows just when to crank up the dial and when to let a track brood for a bit. This works best on tracks such as the two previously released singles, “The Grey” and “The Dark,” which each have their intricate elements on them to make them stand out from must of the sludge being played on Modern Rock radio. The latter track even features several backing voices that Thrice reached out to for from their fans directly, through a video submission process that was featured on our site here. The haunting track fits well on this album and sets the darker tones that Thrice were going for on this LP.
One of my favorite songs on this record, “Everything Belongs,” is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite songs by the band, with its gorgeous backing piano and gut-wrenching emotion dripping through the speakers. It’s on songs like this that remind me of why I got so deeply ingrained into Thrice in college, and also still today, in my mid-30’s. They write fucking great songs.
“A Branch in the River” is one of the least strong songs Thrice have written, post-hiatus, and I am almost surprised it wasn’t a b-side. However, Thrice redeem themselves quickly on “Hold Up a Light,” with a Beggars and Major/Minor-type build-up, to a powerfully delivered chorus. While “Blood on Blood” reminded me of some of the more acoustic-type tracks found on back half of The Alchemy Index, it doesn’t detract from the overall message that Thrice were willing to put everything on the line for this record.
Naysayers be damned, this is still a great Thrice record. I would have a hard time putting it over the classics in their discography. The fact that Thrice recently charted at #27 on the Billboard 200 should not dissuade you from letting this record grow on you. Thrice have more than earned our respect over the years, so even a slight step down from the classic albums does not make this a weak record at all. Thrice are simply taking the artistic opportunity to stretch their sound in new and interesting ways, and I can’t wait to see how these songs come alive on their upcoming tour.