Sorry this week’s been a bit slow. I went to Yeovil…
Alex Ostroff: “I Don’t Believe You” is dialed back and a little shinier around the edges than their first few albums, but The Thermals can still churn out a solid 3 minute punk number in their sleep. Unfortunately, in this case they may have done so.
Alfred Soto: With its refrain and “oh-oh-oh” and assertive use of a negative, The Thermals inch closer to Buzzcocks territory. They also essay the two-step that Pete Shelley danced with ease: embracing any option just short of a despair that’s probably inevitable. If this is just shy of great, blame the level of generalization of the lyrics, which sounded like a prayer when George W. Bush lived on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue but now play like content sent in mass emails to Barack Obama’s college-age campaigners. I don’t believe him either.
Chuck Eddy: As generic high-register powerpop punk goes, cute and coherent enough; Jay Reatard, if he was alive, might be proud. But the Adverts, Vibrators, Buzzcocks — probably even FM Knives, Clorox Girls, Hatepinks — still have nothing to worry about. Recording for years now, this band has always been hard to hate. And that’s all they’ve been, despite wishful thinkers’ wishes.
Anthony Easton: Basic, well constructed rock and roll is very hard to do well, especially with this paranoid and exhausted kind of lyrical content — it becomes stale very quickly. There is nothing fresh here, but it sounds new, and I don’t know why.
Martin Skidmore: I like bands that want to sound punk but also want to give us pop tunes, so I like The Thermals’ intentions, but the song is too laboured to really succeed. I don’t hate it, but I am not taken with it either.
Michaelangelo Matos: I’m beginning to believe, more and more, that this is a pretty good band who hit it completely perfectly for one album, 2004’s Fuckin A, rather than the great band whose albums have been treading water ever since. They sound better fast, full stop, and this is fast. It’s also whiny, cute, and jumpy, which are also things they do very well.
John Seroff: Sometimes, being brief works well enough.