Thrice – ‘Palms’ (Album Review)
Thrice have always thrived on diverse creative approaches. Their on-record history has already taken in a set of post-hardcore classics (The Artist In The Ambulance), experimental compositional sorcery (Vheissu), and the all-encompassing masterwork The Alchemy Index. Since the latter epic saw the light of day, Thrice have never quite managed to peak in a similar manner…until now.
At its best, Palms is a stunningly subtle work of outright genius. Strange metric and rhythmic approaches run through the likes of Just Breathe, Everything Belongs, and Beyond The Pines, but they flow seamlessly each time. Just Breathe stands out thanks to a brilliantly rubbery bassline and soothing set of climactic lyrics; Everything Belongs is a beautiful power ballad in 7/8, no less; and Beyond The Pines switches time signatures gracefully, every aspect of the whole accentuating a gorgeous series of words.
Given that The Alchemy Index alone spanned 24 songs broken into four sections of six songs apiece, Palms simply cannot show Thrice at their most grandiose – but despite running at a relatively concise ten tracks, it still comes close. Intimate is probably a better word, especially considering how dry, exposed, and vulnerable the vocals are this time out. Dustin Kensrue has given himself much to be proud of on this album; there are some true career highs present on Palms, including of course the trio of mind-expanding songs mentioned above.
Killer hooks abound elsewhere, especially on advance single The Dark, while Kensrue even manages to channel the spirit of the late, great Chris Cornell during certain moments of My Soul. Opener Only Us considers circles of empathy and the need to heal humanity’s fractious divisions through the recognition of fundamental similarities; The Grey is a mass of churning alt-rock driven by more prominent bass; A Branch In The River firmly shakes hands with Thrice’s distant past; and only the awkwardly basic Hold Up A Light and overly meandering Blood On Blood can be considered real weak spots here. However, Blood On Blood is at least partially redeemed by an awesome harp-flavoured section and tasty guitar parts.
For the most part, then, Palms is fucking sick. There’s plenty here to satisfy long-time Thrice aficionados, intrigue and attract new fans, and prove that after 20 years and an album count in the double digits, these guys are still able to better themselves. From career-best performances to understated sonic architecture and goosebump-raising highlights, what more could you honestly ask for from a band of virtuoso veterans?
LTK RATING: 9/10
Pre-order Palms (out September 14) on iTunes.
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