The Thermals - Desperate Ground (Saddle Creek)

The latest offering from Portland three-piece The Thermals gives fans exactly what they want – and expect.

Released Apr 15th, 2013 via Saddle Creek / By Peter Clark
The Thermals - Desperate Ground (Saddle Creek) The sixth album from Portland, Oregon’s finest purveyors of lo-fi punk rock continues their fine run of form since their most notable release, ‘06’s The Body, The Blood, The Machine, gained them wider audience recognition. With Desperate Ground, the three-piece have created a record that echoes both a passion and loneliness found in the most desolate of times. ‘I Go Alone’ sums it all up perfectly: one man’s ode to fighting an inevitable fate of war and desperation, spat with all the vengeance that lead singer Hutch Harris can muster (there’s no greater sound than hearing Harris yell out “KILL” with the upmost passion).

As with previous records, there’s a spine of razor sharp jangling guitars holding the album together, creating an identity that is best separated by Harris’ wail through torments of lost love and a dark, humorous sense of inevitability. Opening track ‘Born To Kill’, slightly reminiscent of Ramones-style speed playing, starts the record at a high intensity, which flows throughout ‘Desperate Ground’. Yells of “I was born to kill, when you demand I will” with an excited reluctance, are contradicted with album highlight ‘You Will Be Free’, which shouts tremendous amounts of passion and positive slogans at the listener. You can’t help but stand up loud and proud; “We are alive, we will fight to the end”.

The biggest criticism to be thrown at Desperate Ground is that there is a predictability with the tracks, which the band seem all too happy to embrace. Rather than mix in a slower number or a solid rock/pop song, each track is filled with moments and key changes that even the newest of listeners can predict from the track previous. That’s not to say that each song doesn’t merit listening to, as although it may be a little repetitive, it’s worth it for the cacophony that The Thermals create.