album review: thrice – major/minor (2011)

Thrice has pretty much been my favorite band of the last 10 years. Considering I’ve seen them 19 times (soon to be 20) since 2001, I wouldn’t say that’s too far off. Don’t worry, I’m not as biased for Thrice as I am for you know who. Hit the jump for the review.

Oh and there’s two more coming this week.

-grizzly

Artist: Thrice
Album: Major/Minor
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Record Label: Vagrant Records

For a band like Thrice, making music has always come so effortlessly. That realm of the band really hit its stride throughout the course of the meticulous and experimental Alchemy Indexes, and even more so with Beggars, their 2009 LP. So for a band that has toyed with a dozen different rock and roll genres, one can imagine a bit of a writer’s block when it came time for album number 7. Turns out, Major/Minor found Thrice fine-tuning the Beggars sound into a more expansive rock album with a few more ideas to boot.

For the first time in their career, the band seems to have released their first true “follow-up.” And in the scope of the Thrice discography, that can be a very polarizing feeling. Some may declare that they’ve finally settled in on a sound, while others may be worried that this is the sound they are settling on. Beggars’ blues-oriented rock and roll was an immense departure from Thrice’s entire back catalogue, and left a lot of the fans in the dust. And if that’s the sound they want to explore, then it seems many will in fact get left behind.

The album’s opening duo of “Yellow Belly” and “Promises” soar, coupled with memorable guitar parts and Dustin Kensrue’s spotless vocals. With the use of certain production techniques, this record is legitimately heavy, but not in the post-hardcore leanings of Thrice’s past. This is clearly a matured band who’ve grown past the days of growling and shouting, subbing in sludgy guitars and dropped bass tones in their place. The same maturation is evident in the math-rock inspired “Blur,” which finds itself switching time signatures several times throughout the song.

Discomforting as it is to say, it wouldn’t be surprising if this was Thrice’s last album, at least for a while. The bookend mentality of “Anthology” finds the lyrics taking bits and pieces from old Thrice songs, including “Atlantic” and “Trust.” The somber “Words in the Water” holds an inspiration from biblical scriptures, discovering themes of salvation and redemption, not to mention, it’s easily one of the album’s best tracks.

“Disarmed” is a great closer for Major/Minor, slow in its pacing and heavy in its delivery. The guitar is methodical, Dustin’s voice is earnest and the material is reflective and gloomy, before it reaches an emotional apex, not unlike the bridge in “Of Dust and Nations” and “In Exile.” And that’s the thing, this entire record has an anthemic, retrospective feel that captures the best and worst bouts of nostalgia, which is what makes it such a satisfying listen.

[ed note: Anything about the band’s ‘end’ is conjecture on my part.]

Grade: 7.7/10

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