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The Thermals — We Disappear (March 25, 2016)

The Thermals — We Disappear (March 25, 2016)

         The Thermals — We Disappear (March 25, 2016)
♠   The Thermals, much like the currents of warm air that share the band’s name, don’t have much time for grandiloquence. They come, they rise, and then they’re gone.
♠   The Portland, Oregon trio specialize in quick hitting pop–punk that deals with love and love–related pain — they don’t shy away from feelings. Today, Nerdist is premiering “Thinking of You,” the latest track from the band’s upcoming record, We Disappear, and it’s as direct as any in The Thermals’ canon.
♠   In the press release, “Thinking of You” is described as “a bouncy, super–catchy blend of  ‘70s punk,  ‘80s pop, and classic Thermals new century angst.” That seems like a lot of different sounds to absorb, and you’ll have less than two minutes to process everything. But that’s ok, because The Thermals — as always — are masters of brevity.
♠   “I’ve been listening to the voice inside my head, wishing I’d heard you instead,” sings Hutch Harris. “And when I thought about love, I was only thinking of us. When I thought of all the things I wanna do, I was only thinking of you.”
♠   It’s punchy and uplifting and full of regret, all at the same time. It’s “one of the most straight–forward love songs we’ve ever written, a point–blank post–break up song,” said Harris — as included in the We Disappear bio courtesy of Kurt “K Ohle” Braunohler (which is equal parts thoughtful and hilarious). “It’s a song that says exactly what it means.”
Location: Portland, Oregon, U.S. 
Album release: March 25, 2016
Record Label: Saddle Creek
Genre: Indie Rock
Duration:     29:31
Tracks:
01. Into the Code     2:55
02. My Heart Went Cold     2:38
03. Hey You     2:31
04. If We Don’t Die Today     3:30
05. The Great Dying     3:56
06. In Every Way     2:41
07. The Walls     2:16
08. Thinking of You     1:58
09. Always Never Be     2:19
10. Years in a Day     4:50
℗ 2016 Saddle Creek
♠   The Thermals are best at making songs you put on mixtapes named ‘Drunken Sing–alongs When You’re Sad.’ They specialize in late–night, secret conversations about feeling simultaneously romantic and resentful over being raised Catholic. They’re the soundtrack to breaking glass, and an ode to the beauty of brokenness. They say that the mark of intelligence is the ability to hold two disparate and conflicting truths in the mind at the same time: I am a good person; I am not a good person. We Disappear lives in this delicate, in–between place: at once hard and noisy, while also soft and personal. And seeming contradictions abound on this album. We Disappear is an all–too–real, dark, and intensely personal album — in the past most of singer Hutch Harris’ lyrics have been mostly fictitious tales — about how we try to outrun demise, whether personal or physical. It is an emotional document of how two people can tear each other apart, while simultaneously making you wanna get up and jump around the room. A lot of We Disappear is about regret, i.e. still loving someone after a break–up and hanging on to these feelings, but it’s also about separation in terms of technology, how it can isolate us and impact our relationships, and how humans have embraced it to the point where we’ve already assimilated into it. “The Great Dying” and “Into the Code” examine how we’re so afraid we’re going to be forgotten, or overlooked, that we upload everything about our lives onto the Internet. We Disappear features the longest running Thermals line–up of Hutch Harris, Kathy Foster, and Westin Glass, and that it was recorded in Portland, OR at Kung Fu Bakery (The Shins, Tegan and Sara) and in Seattle, WA at The Hall of Justice (Nirvana, Mudhoney), and produced by Chris Walla (formerly of Death Cab For Cutie).
Review
Kurt Braunohler
♠   I don’t know how to write a bio for an album. I’ve never written one.
♠   I’m a comedian. My job is to talk onstage for long enough that the trapped, drunken audience has to buy more chicken wings from the club. I am not qualified to write about music. And yet here I am, writing a bio for the new Thermals record, We Disappear. Thank god it’s a great fucking record.
♠   The first time I heard The Thermals was on broken headphones while riding the A Train to Rockaway, Brooklyn, flying mere feet over a frozen Jamaica Bay on a too–bright January morning. I had just fallen in love with a wonderful, terrible woman who was thousands of miles away. I was very fragile, I had no boundaries, and I was the strongest I’d ever been. And that’s how this album feels. There’s a new vulnerability here, but The Thermals’ sound is as strong as it’s ever been.
♠   The Thermals are best at making songs you put on mixtapes named ‘Drunken Sing–alongs When You’re Sad.’ They specialize in late–night, secret conversations about feeling simultaneously romantic and resentful over being raised Catholic. They’re the soundtrack to breaking glass, and an ode to the beauty of brokenness.
♠   They say that the mark of intelligence is the ability to hold two disparate and conflicting truths in the mind at the same time: I am a good person; I am not a good person. We Disappear lives in this delicate, in–between place: at once hard and noisy, while also soft and personal. And seeming contradictions abound on this album.  We Disappear is an all–too–real, dark, and intensely personal album — in the past most of singer Hutch Harris’ lyrics have been mostly fictitious tales — about how we try to outrun demise, whether personal or physical. It is an emotional document of how two people can tear each other apart, while simultaneously making you wanna get up and jump around the room.
♠   The deeply dark, yet oddly catchy “Heart Went Cold” plays on the double metaphor of loss of love/life and features the sad realization “I pushed you away”, but is immediately followed by the super poppy “oh–oh oh”. The classic fucking rock anthem “Hey You” is a paranoid fantasy about running from the Grim Reaper as he calls after you, about “being terrified of death,” says Harris, but “a celebration of that feeling as opposed to feeling sad about it.” A surprisingly uplifting eulogy of the death of a relationship, “Thinking Of You” is explained by Harris as “one of the most straight–forward love songs we’ve ever written, a point–blank post–break up song. It’s a song that says exactly what it means. It and a lot of the record are about regret, i.e. still loving someone after a break–up and hanging on to these feelings.”
♠   “We Disappear” is also about separation in terms of technology, how it can isolate us and impact our relationships, and how humans have embraced it to the point where we’ve already assimilated into it. “The Great Dying” and “Into the Code” examine how we’re so afraid we’re going to be forgotten, or overlooked, that we upload everything about our lives onto the Internet.
♠   Harris explains, “Technology, love and death are the three obsessions of the record. Our privacy used to be so important to us and now everything has changed — we freely offer once private information about relationships and reveal everything about our day–to–day lives. We’re trying to preserve our life digitally so when we’re gone people won’t forget us. We’re using technology to become immortal. You can even set up Facebook and Twitter accounts to continue updating after you die! We Disappear is about how humans fight the inevitable.”
♠   I’m sure you want to know that the record will come out March 25th, 2016 on Saddle Creek, that it features the longest running Thermals line–up of Hutch Harris, Kathy Foster, and Westin Glass, and that it was recorded in Portland, OR at Kung Fu Bakery (The Shins, Tegan and Sara) and in Seattle, WA at The Hall of Justice (Nirvana, Mudhoney), and produced by Chris Walla (formerly of Death Cab For Cutie). But what really matters is that this record GETS IT. It walks that fine line between truth and lies, between death and life, between depression and joy — all the while recognizing that one cannot exist without the other. And it brings us with it. That’s the reason to listen to this record: Because it’s a fucking great album, by an amazing band. Long Live The Thermals.
Review
JASON HELLER, Published March 17, 2016, 6:00 AM ET
♠   We Disappear — the seventh album by Portland punk trio The Thermals — takes its name from a line in “The Great Dying,” the record’s most harrowing song. “You said we came / We scrawled our name / We were here / We disappear,” sings vocalist–guitarist Hutch Harris, his voice bruised and strident at the same time. It’s a churning, eerie track, not the kind of driving, fist–in–the–air anthem The Thermals are known for on earlier classics like 2003’s More Parts Per Million (2003) and The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006). Instead, it lopes along before dissolving in a puddle of distorted dissonance.
♠   “The Great Dying” isn’t typical of We Disappear as a whole — at least not sonically. The remainder of the album is, for the most part, as acidic and adrenalized as the band’s prior body of work. Yet that same sense of dread permeates new songs such as “My Heart Went Cold,” a thumping, midtempo earworm with bubbling bass (courtesy of Kathy Foster) and sweet backing vocals (thanks to drummer Westin Glass). In the midst of upbeat energy, Harris buries dour lines like “The distance between us is fatal / It swallows the light.” And on “Into The Code,” our reliance on social media takes on a morbid tinge of would–be immortality: “Into the code / We stay alive / We live in hope we will survive.”
♠   Pitting infectious gems against darker, deeper subject matter isn’t new for The Thermals, and it’s a formula that couldn’t be more relevant right now. Produced by Chris Walla, formerly of Death Cab For Cutie, the record sounds punchy and raw, with “The Walls” benefiting from a choppy, start–stop, power–pop riff that hurls Harris’ lyrics against, well, the wall: “The walls I build for you / Are the walls we will share / They will tear, they will tear us in two.” Any allusion toward a certain wall–happy GOP candidate may be entirely unintentional — not that Harris has ever shied away from the occasional political statement — but as with the best Thermals music, politics becomes part of a larger picture rife with double meanings. In “If We Don’t Die Today,” Harris sings, “If we don’t die tonight / Tell me it will be all right.”
♠   That mixture of fatalism and hope, of heart–pumping romance and snub–nosed realism, is what makes We Disappear so gripping. That and the hooks. “Thinking Of You” could be a song you’ve heard a million times before, in the best possible way. Over a woah–oh–woah–oh refrain, backed again by Foster, Harris delivers another love song for the ages — a tribute to communication breakdowns and breakups rendered in effortlessly catchy chunks of pop–punk. Fourteen years in, The Thermals aren’t necessarily optimistic about humanity’s future, but We Disappear isn’t going to let that get in the way of a perfect shout–along. ♠   http://www.npr.org/
Label: http://saddle-creek.com/
Website: http://www.thethermals.com/
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The Thermals — We Disappear (March 25, 2016)

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