Friday, 2 October 2009

Thrice - Beggars Album Review

I've been trying to write a review of this album for over a week now, and through repeat listens I'm trying to make my decision on it. Everything about how this album sounds is what I love in a band- overwrought dramatic soundscapes, pummelling riffs and a pained but never whiny voice. There is absolutely no denying the musical competency of all the band and Dustin Kensrue possesses one of the most underrated voices of our time, some thing he displayed perfectly on his country tinged solo album.

All this said, I'm still struggling to find a hook that sticks in my head. Obviously this is not what all albums are about, but I'm not looking for mile wide choruses just those moments of charm that make you go back to a song/album again and again. This separates a good album and a great album to me.

On repeat listens, I'm starting to find them. From the staccato drums that pile in opener, All The World Is Mad, to the subtle plucked guitar line that underpins the verse to The Weight (a song that beautifully explodes in the chorus). Circles is the first song to display Thrice's ability to bring the volume down a few notches and still be able to keep you listening. Wood And Wire and Exile also display the softer side of the band. In the case of In Exile, just when you start to get bored of it, the song breaks into the most incredibly lifting chorus of "whoahs". Definitely a stand out.

Talking Through The Glass/We Move Through Swing Sets feels a little one dimensional and lacks anything that makes it stand out, and after so many soft songs, The Great Exchange leaves me a little cold as well, possessing none of the charm of earlier tracks of the same pace. Closer Beggars however ends the album on a high. Opening softly and slowly building into a monster of a song, it displays Thrice, and Dustin's voice especially, at it's best.

Thrice long since took a step out of the scene that birthed them. Much like Brand New, they've created a niche all of their own, and a sound that is so distinctly theirs. After the epic scope of their previous Alchemy Index releases (2 sets of 2 mini albums) and the fact that they are probably never going to better "Artist In The Ambulance", Beggars was always going to be a tough release. It's a good album without doubt, but perhaps lacking the charm that will see listeners going back to it in years to come.

1 comment:

  1. I'm inclined to agree with a majority of this and yet disagree with portions too. The Alchemy Index, to me is incredible, but more importantly was pointed toward in a less 'extreme' way via their best penned album to date: Vheissu. I believe that Vheissu truly betters AitA in nearly every way as it shows how truly far reaching they could go with their music as opposed to the more one-dimensional thrice of the past. Artist is an incredible album in its own right, but to me, Vheissu is the pinnacle of what they prove capable of as musicians, artists and defining who Thrice is exactly: an unstoppable force in music in which very few bands can match wits with their growing catalog and ongoing genius, really.
    Zep is my all-time fav band, and this hasn't changed in over a decade & counting. That said, I'm a HUGE fan of a lot of actually active bands, and Thrice is one of them...However, they may be the ONLY band I would place on a caliber level with Led Zeppelin in the sense that there appears little ground exists they cannot cover. I mean, how many bands can deliver 'Under a Killing Moon' then record something as amazing as 'Come All You Weary?' Few & far between, IMO.
    What I do agree with is that this album will grow from like-to-love with each repeated listen but may never quite reach the status of the last two records -or sets since the Alchemy index is, well, four small EPs = 1 big record, essentially. They certainly created their own niche, which I believe a couple other bands also did in the last several years, one of which is dredg (me am big fan of dredg).

    The opening track of this record I must comment on as the guitar tone was scary-familiar and not like any other Thrice guitar sound I heard prior to it. At first I couldn't put my finger on it, almost like it was so familiar, it was right under my nose & I couldn't picture it. Then it hit me: my favorite 'active' band PEARL JAM! More specifically, the guitars from Vitalogy. The tone is near-identical to Mike McCready's on songs like 'Tremor Christ' 'Immortality' and specifically 'Not For You' in the guitar solo. The influence is unmistakable, whether they know or admit it or not. I thought it a cool departure to keep Teppei's sound fresh for him yet retro in nature at the same time. The lyrics amaze, like Dustin pretty much always delivers and the back bone of the Brothers Breckenridge slams as hard and intricate as Crommerford & Wilk of Rage or even Bonzo & JPJ. Overall, this album beats the pants off of most other offerings by even some of the biggest bands' releases this year, save for maybe GrooGrux by DMB & U2's No Line both of which I took to quickly and find them more or less required material in a solid CD collection. In fact, I prefer Beggars far over Backspacer, which has some hooks and catchy riffs but overall misses out on the longevity of other PJ records. I realize that all these bands deliver their music in fairly different ways but lyrically & musically, they all grasp incredible abilities and Thrice is certainly no exception so I have no problem comparing them under the category I term 80% of my music: R O C K.
    Pick up Beggars, download the extra 5 trax they threw in to entice owners of the jacked off the 'Net version to buy the real McCoy. One thing's for sure, you won't be disappointed.