While the music has been straightforward on The Thermals’ four prior releases – fleshy power chords, wiry bass, and the kind of sing-talking that encourages yelling along – the themes have been complex. The Body, The Blood, The Machine, for example, was a concept album about a couple fleeing from a fascist U.S. government. With Personal Life, the band is handling a topic that’s easier to grasp – the struggles and triumphs of a relationship. It’s a familiar theme, but the Portland-based trio’s infectious post-pop makes it impossible to ignore songs with even the simplest ideas or titles (“Never Listen to Me,” “Your Love is So Strong”). They immediately pull listeners into “I Don’t Believe You” with sing-along “Ohh ohhs,” spazzy drums, and hooky guitar that worms itself into every crevice of the brain like a rushing waterfall in a corn maze. Songs like “Power Lies” sprawl out on the straight-to-tape recording, allowing some space between the purring of the bass and intermittent guitar riffs. Personal Life starts with “I’m Gonna Change Your Life” and ends with “You Changed My Life.” The music in between is a hell of a journey that we’re lucky to take with them.
The Thermals - I Don't Believe You
The Thermals - Now We Can See