This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on May 5th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.
Ok, this is totally not really a “first listen,” this is more like an eleventh or so listen, but I have been having a lot of fun doing these the past few nights, and after getting the podcast done and up, and a bunch of news queued up for tomorrow morning, I found myself with about an hour to do things before I am going to call it a night. I could, maybe should, work on some features on the forum, but I decided that a Thrice live blog is what gets my time tonight.
Beer for the night: Full Sail “Pilsner”
The regular rules still apply: These are my first thoughts, totally fully of spoilers, mostly just a live blog of what I’m thinking, I can change my mind at any time, and feel free to ask questions!
10:16pmWhen I first hit play I was not expecting this to be how the album starts. The twangy guitar. The slow build. This is basically a slow, but powerful, song. “It’s gonna rain, it’s gonna rain, until the levy breaks.” I really love how heavy the chorus feels even if the song is basically mid-tempo.
10:17pmI love the dynamics in Dustin’s voice on this album. The way he sings the second verse is just incredible.
10:18pmLove the line, “how faith feels like a fist full of sand.”
10:19pmI am mostly surprised this ends up being the first song on the album. I think they could have swapped one and two and it would have been more traditional, but it really is a good song. Some great riffs. Just really good Thrice. The kind of song that makes you a little mad because it feels like the assholes can write this kind of song without even trying.
Really great bridge. Love the guitar riff mixing with the drums there.
Blood on the Sand
10:21pmBasically everyone’s heard it probably. Very straight forward rock song that I seem to like more than their fans. I mean, here’s the deal – this is kind of a good middle moment for the album … this song is like right in the middle of where the sound goes. It definitely still goes more to the right, and more to the left, but this is the stake in the ground for what the album sounds like.
10:22pmThat chorus though. I like pissed off and political Dustin.
“OR THERE MIGHT AS WELL BE.”
10:25pmOn subsequent listens this is my least favorite song in the sequence. I like the song, don’t think it fits well at track three and it messes with the flow of the album. I like the song, I like this guitar tone, this riff, this very Thrice beat, but it’s just when I wish they would kick the album up after the first two songs and this doesn’t get there. It’s a good song, totally a good song, but I would have moved this into the middle and pushed it a little more. Kinda reminds me of “All the World is Mad” in the way it has a strange feel to it – maybe mix that with “Between the End and Where We Lie.”
This album is full of great bridges.
10:26pmLove the production into the outro of this song. It really is exactly the right mix.
10:28pmIf people thought they sounded like “radio rock” before, heh, this is gonna piss people off a whole lot. I mean, it’s definitely that kind of song, but I don’t think that’s anymore a bad thing than Fall Out Boy writing a pop-song. This chorus is very much a rock song staple. I like it. That pre-chorus into the chorus, how Dustin gets quite and kinda whispers before screaming: COME ON, WE GOTTA WAKE UP … total rock band move, but it works.
10:30pm”Tomorrow’s song is a siren singing such a sweet and sudden lullaby, tomorrow’s song is got us clinging to the promise of the bye and bye.”
10:31pmIt’s a straight forward rock song in so many ways, but it’s really good. It’s another good point for this album — it’s not like this album gets that “weird”, but it does what they set out to do really, really well.
Sucker for the pull the sound back and build it back up move. Like, always like that. Very Foo Fighters.
The Long Defeat
10:36pmI can’t figure how I feel about this song. Like, it always kinda feels like it drags here in my previous listens. But, when I listen now I really love the way Dustin does these verses. He’s got this cool cadence. The chorus is definitely not my favorite though. I think it’s just … too generic. Yeah, not a word I usually use with this band, but the instrumentals are way too good how they get out of it for what the chorus ends up being. The verses are a lot of fun. “I believe there’s a word in the wire, and I believe there’s a way through the fire.”
10:37pmI think this could be really great live though. But it’s not really like a go crazy song, it’s got this groove to it for being pretty heavy instrumentally.
“Together we’ll fight the long defeat.”
10:39pmI feel for the first time in forever I’m ahead of Thrice on something! Hahah. I usually have found and discovered new things because I hear Thrice talk about them or pitch them and then I fall in love with them. I think Dave Eggers was basically brought to my attention because of Thrice. But Seneca is like a huge, huge, huge, influence on me and something I have been reading over the past 5+ years and think is basically a must read in this day and age.
Song is instrumental. It’s basically just there, but everything by Seneca the Younger is a highly recommended read.
10:41pmYou’ve probably heard this one too.
10:42pmIf you like this and “Blood on the Sand” you’ll like this album. They’re really a good pace and feel for the album.
10:43pmAt this point in the album it’s fair to say I like this a whole lot more than M/m. There’s a fragile part of Dustin’s vocals that adds a new dynamic to the album. There’s a feeling behind it that feels urgent. I never fell for the last one. But this feels like the album I wanted after Beggars. God, this band is good.
Stay With Me
10:46pmAnother “omg it’s radio rock” kind of song. I mean, like, it’s Thrice doing this really beautiful “love” song.
“Would you stay with me if you thought the war was over and everything made right. Would you still believe in us or would your love for me grow colder with no one left to fight. WOULD YOU STAY WITH ME?!”
10:48pmI could have seen this on Dustin’s solo album but without all the extra instruments. The songwriting is right in line with that album.
10:49pmAnother bridge that I really fucking like.
Death From Above
10:49pmLove the grove in how this opens. I think this could have worked better earlier in the sequence.
10:51pmThe lyrics in this one are fantastic. And it’s probably the heaviest song on the album. The way Dustin screams into the chorus and it builds is very “Earth Will Shake.”
10:52pm”But I am never sure who I am killing, how many innocents were in the building? I dropped death out of the sky. No love for human beings, no love for people.”
TELL ME WHY?
10:54pmThis is a top song on the album for me. Dustin’s said it’s about Snowden, I like to think there’s a connection to Mars Hill as well. It’s political as fuck. Haha.
“You told me keep it quiet, I’d ruin everything, but I’d rather start a riot than help you pull these strings.”
10:56pmThe guitars into the bridge. The end of this song. Damn.
Salt in the Shadow
11:01pmWe come to the end. It’s no “Red Sky.” But the lyrics are Dustin showing off. It’s poetry. I love the “Air” like feel to the song. The little extra touches are something that take this band to levels others don’t go. The keys. The things you hear in the background are what no one else thinks to do. It’s the kind of thing that you want to replay again and again.
11:02pmIf you wrote just these lyrics and nothing else I’d think you’re amazing.
11:14pmAnd we’re closing out. Keys, thrown notes, everything mixing together … bending the sound around the piano. And we know it’s the end of the album. My final thoughts are that it’s a really good album and a great comeback album but I don’t really know how it holds up to their catalog yet. I really like it, it doesn’t let me down, but I also don’t find myself needing to listen to it. I’m not obsessing over it each day and needing to turn it on, play it, listen to it, and reaching for it. Is that indicative of its quality or just my musical habits in 2016? I can’t be sure.
This listen really was a lot of fun and there’s so much to get into with what they do here. It’s got so many elements to love and appreciate. It’s not going to top any of my favorite of the catalog lists, but it fits really well into their discography. It plays around as the best follow up to Beggars we never got. And for that alone I’m glad it exists. Very strong album, very solid return, I am happy with it and yet also feel like it’s … just kinda … sorta … maybe … missing something. Maybe not quite excellent and flirting into the just really good stage … which for most bands is right where you want to be. But this is the band I have on my wall. A band I hold up as like top 5 from this “scene” ever and their “good” albums are better than most band’s “best” albums. So I’m satisfied and left wanting more at the same time. I’m totally content and yet kinda wishing they knocked me on my ass a little more. I really like the album and will listen to it a lot but it’s the American Slang, the Invented, the album in a catalog everyone knows is really fucking good but it’s also not the album. And that’s both hilariously totally ok and still incredible, and also you’re kinda secretly wishing it was more, even when you know you’re happy with what you have.