Now We Can See

The Thermals

Kill Rock Stars, 2009

REVIEW BY: Peter Vissers


The Portland, Oregon-based Thermals recorded their debut album on a four-track cassette machine. The abominably bad sound quality perfectly fitted the thirteen raw punk songs on More Parts Per Million. On their following albums they gradually exchanged the lo-fi sound for a more polished kind of punk. Their third record, The Body, The Blood, The Machine, was just as authentic as their first one despite the fact Hutch Harris’ voice didn’t sound like Johnny Rotten through a cell phone speaker anymore. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Now We Can See picks up where The Body, The Blood, The Machine left off. Unfortunately, it isn’t as good.

The album opener, “When I Died,” is quite catchy but not very memorable. The title shows lack of inspiration (“When I Died,” “When We Were Alive” and “When I Was Afraid” have no connection except from the titles). The first three tracks of Now We Can See are set at very similar tempos and chords which cause the first ten minutes to be unpleasantly plain and dull. Fortunately the fourth track, “Now We Can See,” saves the day. The incredibly catchy title track is one of the best songs on Now We Can See. “At The Bottom Of The Sea” the album’s slowest song, is quite beautiful. It sounds like it was written by The Walkmen and that’s not a bad thing. It provides a welcome six minutes of rest after nearly fifteen minutes of violent power pop. “When We Were Alive,” is in my opinion one of the album’s best tracks. Its two minutes of straightforward but very awesome post punk remind me a lot of “A Pillar Of Salt” (which appeared on The Body, The Blood, The Machine).

Now We Can See is not a bad album at all. It does contain some great songs and the Thermals’ front man Hutch Harris’ lyrics are quite clever. Their sound still reminds me of a less sophisticated Sonic Youth with a hint of Sex Pistols, Walkmen and Dinosaur Jr.

The Body, The Blood, The Machine was better but Now We Can See is a solid pop-punk record that leaves me with high hopes for the future. The Thermals can do even better and I’m pretty sure they will.

Rating: B-

User Rating: B+



© 2009 Peter Vissers and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Kill Rock Stars, and is used for informational purposes only.