“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.
“I’m actually working on a record with my brother while we’re on tour in the fall. We’ve been working on it at random times here and there, but it’ll be different from my solo stuff or Thrice. More indie-pop or electronic.”
This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on July 19th, 2018. 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.
This new album from Thrice is a tricky one to pin down. I’ve spent the last week trying to figure out the best way to put into words what I think about it and, specifically, what it sounds like. I think going broadly I would describe the album has having a nice groove to it. A groove that reminds me most of Beggars, and one that doesn’t wholly eschew the rock sound they had on their last album, but instead leans into many aspects of that sound in new ways.
This weekend marked the 15th anniversary of one of my favorite album release dates in my lifetime. On July 22nd, 2003 both Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue and Thrice’s The Artist in the Ambulance were released. I was home between my sophomore and junior year of college and both albums imprinted on me like few ever have. Driving around my hometown, seeing old friends, reigniting old flames, these two albums became a part of my summer. AbsolutePunk.net was just becoming something I thought I wanted to do with my life and much of what that website would become was created with these two albums as the soundtrack. I was still very much trying to figure out who I was as a person, and these albums felt like a foothold of hope on the future. Watching Yellowcard’s meteoric rise, a bunch of kids that felt almost like peers, gave me a boost of confidence during a time I needed to think things could get better. The world was changing, my world was changing.
15 years later that summer remains one of the best of my life. The friendships made, the hearts broken, the speakers blown out, it all feels like a moment frozen in time. An idealized summer that probably wasn’t nearly what I’ve made up in my mind all these years later. But I hold it dear nonetheless. And when I put on Ocean Avenue, and hear “Back Home,” I’m transported back 15 years ago when that song meant everything to me. A rallying call for what my life was and a romanticized version for what I wanted it to be. And that feeling of home intersplices with the intensity of Thrice’s The Artist in the Ambulance, an album I used as an outlet for my anger at the world, at the war, at myself and all the chaos that felt just beyond the borders of my hometown. Two sides of me dueling it out through two albums released on the same day, during the same summer.
So, here’s to you July 22nd, 2003. I’ll always remember you fondly.
We were consciously trying to leave our palette really broad. The last record was, I think maybe our most cohesive record, and it was still varied but it had something that really pulled it all together. We consciously wanted this one to be a bit more wild and scattered, I think. That song just came from me messing around with arpeggiated synths on a computer, and singing along with that. And I was like, “that sounds cool, it feels cool, it’s got a cool energy” — something about the tone itself, which was the original tone I demoed it with, it seemed to create the right mood for the melody.