Honestly, we all should have seen this coming from Thursday. They’ve been dropping hints of a more atmospheric and textured sound in their records over the past five years (A City By The Light Divided, their split EP with Envy, and Common Existence). So anyone who is saying that their new album, No Devolución, is a new beginning or rebirth for the band just haven’t been paying attention. The common Thursday traits are still present: Geoff Rickly’s not-perfect-yet-so-perfect croon, distorted guitars, thick instrumentation, and, of course, Rickly’s realistic and cathartic lyrics. What’s different is that No Devolución isn’t as abrasive as Thursday albums past, rather it’s soaked in luscious, experimental tones and dark melodies.
The band has never sounded this synchronized as a unit, as each song is the perfect blend of atmospherics and vocals, which can be attributed to the sextet’s relationship with prodcuer Dave Fridmann, now three albums deep. With this kind of trust between band and producer, it’s no surprise that this is their most dynamic album. Take for example the opening track, “Fast To The End,” a huge track that is undeniably Thursday yet you immediately notice a tone that is undeniably not Thursday, as this track balances both aspects to ease listeners in. What follows is arguably the best track on No Devolución, the luscious, synth-lead “No Answers.” The beautiful layered walls of noise created by keyboardist Andrew Everding (this track is the beginning of his coming out party) and clean, chiming guitar work from Tom Keeley and Steve Pedulla swell up to create the pinaccle of the track, only to come crashing down to the gentle outro in which Rickly hauntingly croons over.
“A Darker Forest” is aptly named, as the dark tone of Tim Payne’s bass lines pace the somber track while buzzing guitars and the snare-heavy drumming (courtesy of the ever-improving Tucker Rule, who solidifies himself as one of the top drummers in music with this album) build up the tension of the song – a song that was most likely conceived from their split EP with Envy. Lyrically, Rickly is at the top of his game, as he’s never been this personal before (hard to believe, I know). Join in on the heartache slowly sung on the bleak “Empty Glass,” carried by sparse instrumentation that creates a ghostly backdrop to the painful narration of love lost. “Empty Glass” isn’t only the quietest track Thursday has ever done, but also its most brutal. Or find yourself deeply enthralled by the catharsis of the invigorating “Sparks Against The Sun,” which features a buoyant chorus that is unlike anything in the band’s discography.
The band still fits in some of that classic Thursday sound while remaining true to the overall tone of No Devolución. The frantic “Open Quotes” begins with distorted guitars and Rickly’s howl, yet closes in massive fashion, while “Past and Future Ruins” features a slow, melodic intro paced by Rule and Rickly until all hell breaks loose in the chorus, as the band’s abrasive nature finally flexes it muscles. It’s a perfect blend of the band’s heaviness and melody, as the track culminates in a fashion that will leave you buzzing. “Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart” channels the Deftones at their melodic best (and ending in a magnificent swirl of pulsating guitar work and delectable keys), while “A Gun in the First Act” opens with an accordion but fills out nicely as a persistent industrial rocker.
Per usual, Rickly and company save their best for last, this time in the form of eight minute closer, “Stay True.” The rich track serves as an open letter to anyone struggling to do things the right way. It’s uplifting, tender, and moving, ending in a noisy whirlwind of humming guitar riffs, Rickly’s passionate scream, and all sorts of post-rock atmospherics.
For the Jersey sextet, it’s never been about making money or pleasing other people. Thursday has always been about pushing their musical and creative limits, and on No Devolución, they not only achieve that but exceed that, as they’ve created the best and most rewarding album of their illustrious career. What makes this album so sensational is that none of it sounds forced – the keys, the clean guitars, and all the dreamy soundscapes are the natural progression for a band like Thursday. Sure, older fans will be disappointed that this isn’t a retread of Full Collapse, but for those of us who have grown up, this is the definitive Thursday album – their greatest musical accomplishment. No Devolución is inventive, remarkable, and the first true masterpiece of 2011.