Following the grand experimentation of Vheissu and the conceptual framework of the Alchemy Indexs, Thrice’s 2009 installment Beggars was a difficult pill to swallow for many. One could argue that the band’s progression since The Illusion of Safety had been propelling Thrice in the direction of a magnum opus; showcasing enough ambition and promise to make this a genuine possibility. Rather than being that record, Beggars was the release that shattered that very notion of “masterpiece,” instead serving as a collection of uncomplicated rock songs. For all of its gripe and backlash however, Beggars was the focused and “natural” album that Thrice had been seeking. Additionally, Beggars furthered the impression that the Irvine, California natives are content with crafting each of their records as an entirely separate entity; retaining the fresh edge that so many bands struggle with year-in and year-out.
With seven full-length releases behind them and a bit to prove after their latest record, Thrice come thundering into our spectacle with a darker, bolder, and essentially more reinforced Beggars. For all intents and purposes, Major/Minor takes the elements present on its predecessor and scatters pieces of the band’s previous work throughout. With this said however, Major/Minor continues the band’s utilization of basic song structuring and simplicity, which is still a rather new ordeal for Thrice. This record is minimalism done right; rather than focusing on expansion and experimentation, Major/Minor channels all of its poignancy and intensity into eleven effortless rock tracks. And for the record, Thrice sounds pretty damn good in the process. Case and point with opening duo “Yellow Belly” and “Promises,” which feature grooving bass-lines and forceful riffs to complement Dustin Kensrue’s newly utilized clean vocals. “Cataracts” is quick to make this statement as well, highlighted by fiery guitar leads and Riley Breckenridge’s on-point drumming. In fact, much of Major/Minor is elevated by Breckenridge’s fantastic performance on the drum set; proving a great deal of the record’s technicality and intensity.
If anything could be considered the most apparent change that Thrice has undergone throughout the past few years, Kensrue’s vocals would be that x-factor. In the Artist and the Ambulance days and even in the days of Vheissu, Thrice’s boisterous sound was counter parted with Kensrue’s screams. Yet by Beggars and now Major/Minor, the music was a bit more refined and focused, and thus finding intensity without the vocal outbursts. Kensrue’s evolution as a pure vocalist has tendered beautifully to Thrice’s new sound, discovering ways to be equally as potent and moving than before. The record’s stud of a centerpiece, “Treading Paper” showcases the Thrice front-man at both ends of the spectrum; delivering a calmly striking performance in the openings seconds and bridge, and controlling the upper register when the listener suggests he might explode.
While Major/Minor tenders to the ideals of simplicity and rawness, the six and a half minute “Words in the Water,” is the record’s only flirtation with experimentation. Yet rather than coming off as over the top and out of place on Major/Minor, “Words in the Water” is an extremely well structured mid-tempo ballad that builds only to be torn back down; to leave that lingering tension that suited Beggars so very well and Major/Minor even greater. Additionally, the momentous “Words in the Water” proves to be the final, and ultimately strongest track within a middle section that is absolutely loaded. In a sense, Major/Minor is brilliantly structured as a bell curve, taking a few tracks to really hit its stride and finally leaving the final stretch for cool-down. “Call It In the Air” is the powerful opener of this respective section; riding Breckenridge’s momentous drumming and Kensrue’s forceful vocals. Both “Treading Paper” and “Blur” follow suit, the former demonstrating each member at their absolute best and in turn, shaping a devastating sonic landscape.
Whether Thrice fanatics will love it or not, Major/Minor is yet another step away from the conceptualization, ambition, and elaborate albums of the band’s focal days. For those that have viewed Thrice’s adaptations as a logical progression however, Major/Minor is nothing less than that next sensible step in the group’s sequence; portraying Thrice’s capacity to take basic rock tunes and craft something truly exceptional. The band’s 2011 installment is another indication that Thrice are going to continue to manufacture consistent and distinct records to the delight of their fans, even if Major/Minor is not the colossal release that many wanted Beggars to be.
5. Call It In the Air
6. Treading Paper
8. Words in the Water
9. Listen Through Me
Thrice is an American post-hardcore/experimental rock band that formed in Irvine, California in 1998. The lineup consists of Dustin Kensrue (vocals and guitar), Teppei Teranishi (guitar), Eddie Breckenridge (bass), and Riley Breckenridge (drums).... read more