THE THERMALS – Now We Can See (2009)

The Thermals - Now We Can See Perhaps it was inevitable. Perhaps The Thermals, after putting out a series of excellent modern punk albums (culminating with 2006’s The Body, The Blood, The Machine, a mercilessly raucous album that re-envisions Christianity as fascist, domineering cult, which, depending upon your religious affiliation, might not be too much of a stretch) were destined to take the pop-punk plunge. This news might be disheartening for some, but as far as pop-punk goes, you could do a whole hell of a lot worse than Now We Can See, an album that’s more relaxed and intelligent than a lot of its contemporaries, but an album that, in the context of The Thermals discography, feels somewhat disappointing.

To wit: the album’s best song, When We Were Alive, is the only song on the album that feels as though it could’ve fit on Fuckin’ A or More Parts Per Millions. Coming in at a close second is the song that proceeds it, At The Bottom of the Sea; it’s the only song on the album that dares to both depart from the mid-tempo structure of the rest of the album, while at the same time, refusing to revert back to the band’s original template. So it’s commendable in that regard, and the fact that the song is actually a rather lovely (almost) ballad that slowly drifts of into a sea of guitar spasms is icing on the metaphorical cake here.

As I mentioned earlier, how much a person enjoys Now We Can See is entirely dependent on how much reverence you hold for the band’s earlier work, and how much you enjoy, say, Green Day’s Warning. Here, I’d like to state to anyone who avoids this album for not satisfying any of the above criteria that…well, it’s your loss…somewhat. After all, taken as it is, Now We Can See is perfectly fine. It’s only when you play their earlier work that it seems lesser by comparison. So, take that last sentence there into consideration, and then see if this is something you’ll want to hear. That’s probably the best way to approach it.

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