Under Review

The Thermals

Now We Can See (Kill Rock Stars)

Review By Mark Paulhus


With the dust long settled from the explosion of their 2006 release The Body, The Blood, The Machine, the Thermals are finally ready to drop another cluster of songs on the world. Unfortunately, the much anticipated Now We Can See fails to fully detonate. In their attempt to move forward musically, the Thermals have lost their punk rock urgency and scrappiness. Aside from the feedback-riddled “When We Were Alive” and the driving beat of “When I Was Afraid,” most of the 11 songs completely lack punch and quickly become monotonous. On tracks like “Liquid In, Liquid Out,” the lack of range in Hutch Harris’ voice becomes apparent when set to a droning tempo, while the cute pop of “We Were Sick,” much like a hyperactive friend, can become agitating if you are in the wrong mood. Lyrically Harris has traded in the apocalyptical social commentary of The Body for existential reflection. While his lyrics are creative and interesting, he tends to dwell on the same themes and imagery throughout the album. In the end, the album cover says it all. While still made in the same cut-and-paste style the Thermals are known for, there is no rubble, no fire, no blinded prophets; just a swan beside a white flower against a peaceful night sky. The scene is quiet, passive and hopeful—the very antithesis of punk rock.