Hold Tight, Remember Today - By Volume

Have you ever thought how young we’d be if we never ever went to school? A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Bye Bye Big Ocean (The End)
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Hold Tight, Remember Today

A world-class rock band whose music is built on the most volatile relationships. Author: on June 26, 2012
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“Anything you could feel you can feel again!” For a band like the Thermals, whose self-perpetuating energy catapults their songs into a repetitive rock-music clutch, songwriting is a game of compelling, swirling convictions, some real and others delivered with more than a smirk. So what of this specific idea, in the context of a band whose music – however loud, brash and “simple” – relies on the subtle undertones of irony, intelligence and anger to reach above its sonic station? “Anything you could feel you can feel again”? Well, yes and no. What

happens in the midst of this four-chord band’s canon is strange, because every line feels like the last, and yet – at the end of the storm – you’re very acutely aware of how much the Thermals can say with just those four chords.

And they do say something, too. The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006) is a vital, pulsating album even in 2012, its pointedly twisted religion and patriotism a brilliant touchstone for every discourse relating to modern politics. It starts with a violent stab in the direction of Christian determinism, and ends in an overflowing crash of fear and resilience. What the Thermals do is build a very loud and immersive vortex inside which their characters feel suffocated by their obligations or surroundings – both musically and lyrically – only to humanize those same characters to breaking point, giving them real desires and motivations which gradually burn through the page. The result is an intensity which drives every idea and verse.

When the band pull that tense template onto other ideas and themes, the results are just as devastating. 2009’s Now We Can See threw itself at death and love with the same passion as the band’s politically-minded work, turning the sword on similar enemies (that same fear, that bitter inaction, that clenched-fisted resilience) on a more universal scale. In 2010, Personal Life found that same dichotomy in the unspoken doubts and sparks of a relationship; on the record’s climactic cut, Hutch Harris yells, “Your love is so strong, it breaks at the slightest touch!” only to regain his composure a few songs later to conclude: “You changed my life.” These contradictions are not accidental, not coincidence. They play off each other, highlighting each other’s fleeting nature and at the same time pointing to the gulf in between.

I’ve often found that music is about what fills the gaps between notes. In those split seconds, you get a real glimpse of the band you’re hearing; you can gauge the energy, the beauty and the grit of the whole piece. The Thermals build themselves out of tension, out of the feeling that the next line could fall one of two ways. Their music plays off its own textural rigidity, making the most of every subtly-changed guitar twist. When a Thermals song changes – however innocent it might seem – you know that something is really happening. It’s a powerful sound, one which makes so much out of so little. “When I Was Afraid” explodes amid cymbal blasts and reckless vocals, and the force of that crescendo can be felt all the way back through the Thermals’ discography. All of these moments know how important a moment can be. “Anything you could feel you can feel again”? Well, yes and no.

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