"Hope when all evidence suggests you should despair, honest confusion offered in place of stock rhetoric, music that sounds like it's fueled as much by joy as rage: The Thermals' moral indignation is never a bummer."
I think I just like this quote because one of my friends who I worked with at the radio station used to play The Thermals all the time, so I associate them with him a little. And he always called stuff a bummer. Harvell is using one very average, everyman word to sum up what The Thermals are NOT - that makes the intelligent point he's making relatable on a very basic level. And I like when writing is relatable. We're all just big music geeks, right?
Also, this one:
"You sure as hell can't imagine them writing a grand concept album kvetching about suburban sprawl."
Anyone who uses Yiddush and finds a way to mock Arcade Fire's new album in the same sentence just cracks me up, regardless of my fandom for Arcade Fire.
With his concluding paragraph, I think he's spot on:
"I have to admit that I do miss the messy, noisy, get-it-done-in-under-two-minutes Thermals. They were just so good at the ramshackle thing, the feeling that they were racing toward the finish line before one or all of their amps exploded. Personal Life is hardly a failure; much of it is excellent. But it's also missing that anger-meets-energy urgency that made the Thermals' early albums so undeniable."
I still think the album deserves a higher rating, though.