It is generally understood that bands write music from a reflective place and infuse personal experience into their lyrics. It is equally common to have singers and songwriters use the actual name of the person for whom their affection or disdain is dedicated to. What Thee Ahs have done on their latest record is shred any attempt of subtlety in the matter and blatantly call out people, including an ex band member.
Names is the title of the fourth full length album, and as its name implies is simply a musical journey through the band’s diary. While we may not know a person named Olga, or Jaci, or even Artemis, we can all certainly relate to a person like Olga, or any of the other nine characters featured on the album. Thee Ahs are taking a slightly more serious approach to the stories, and the Vancouver foursome are using their black bubble gum magic to write songs that everyone can relate to. It is this intimacy which not only attests to the band’s maturity and development, but makes for some of their best material to date. Highlights are a-plenty, both lyrically and sonically. While the lyrics are a shade darker, Thee Ahs’ sense of humour still shines through. “I think it’d be fun if I never saw you in the flesh again” is the general sentiment towards “Davie.” While we may feel for him, “Mareesa” (band member?) and “Olga” seem like legit cool folks.
Then there is “Andrew”, whose dedication is one of the more aurally stimulating tunes on the record featuring deep and smooth vocals from Thee Ahs’ multi-instrumentalist Dan On. Consequently, a tribute of sorts to their old bandmate, “Ridley” Bishop, provides a touching moment when Davinah Shell’s vocals repeat the sentiment “I have named chords after you.” Listening to Names, one gets the feeling of being invited into a Thee Ahs phone conversation about love lost and love won, which in many ways is identical to our own ebb and flow.
On another note, add Names to the ever expanding list of indie-pop records that are destined to be classics and in some way involve Jay Arner, who seems to have the Midas touch these days.