Album Review: Thrice - 'Palms'

13 September 2018 | 4:28 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Thrice are forever here to stay.

More Thrice More Thrice

Thrice continue their triumphant and quite frankly amazing run in their post-hiatus era with their tenth studio album, 'Palms'. (Besides, how seriously do we dare take any “hiatus” announcement these days?) Thrice have been a cornerstone band in alternative music for almost two decades now, and their influence on these music scenes can never be overstated enough. Ten albums deep or not, they're a truly special band, both musical and lyrically, to say the very least.

It's nothing short of astounding that they continue to push their sound into newer directions without falling into the common trap of re-treading signature moments of their past works. They could easily have just kept on making heavier albums like 'The Illusion Of Safety' (2002) or 'The Artist In The Ambulance' (2003) over and over again, but they've been evolving ever since 'Vheissu' (2005) and never really looked back. 2016’s 'To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere' LP was another bold new step forward for a long-running band that already had such an expansive sound. Yet this month's 'Palms' somehow manages to pull together a compilation of the very best of a mature Thrice sound without ever sounding tired or rehashed. All the while the record's pace flows in and out of each track perfectly so; with as much lyrical conviction and poignancy as ever before.

Synths, strings (harps included), larger vocal harmonies and arrangements, ambient soundscapes, and keyboards play as important a role as traditional rock instrumentation does across the ten stories of 'Palms'. Which all adds to the record's roomier, livelier vibe; allowing so many sections much more space to breathe and blossom. Of course, always central to any Thrice record - new or old - is the guitar material on offer. And while a lot of it may not be akin to what some fans know as “the Thrice sound”, the work done on the six-strings is simply phenomenal here. Frontman Dustin Kensrue and fellow guitarist Teppei Teranishi trade gritty riffs, pedal-affected sections, and huge melodies with equal parts deftness, aggression, and potent skill. Whilst Eddie Breckenridge’s bass guitar work throughout produces a grand yet undoubtedly underrated performance of the year. (See: 'A Branch In The River' as just one example). The bassist's brother, Riley Breckenridge, has been given such an exquisite drum mix too; allowing his natural playing and kinetic grooves to mold seamlessly with the rest of the band's performances. A definite sonic by-product of producer Eric Palmquist and mixer by John Congleton lending their talents to this effort. For to say that this record sounds and feels cohesive is an understatement!

[caption id="attachment_1103970" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Thrice, 2018. [/caption]

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Having talented musicians in a room together does not, however, always a good band make. Thus, perhaps the most important aspect of Thrice is the tangible chemistry that's clearly on display for the entirety of 'Palms'. (And the rest of their discography, to be honest). You know you have a really good band on your hands when you can sit back and listen away without ever noticing particular parts unless they want you to know about them. As if there is only the song in its wholeness until suddenly a tasty bass riff is isolated for you specifically, or a soaring guitar passage flies overhead and you can't help but figuratively look upward to try and catch it. It's this ability to forget about the fact that there are actually four people converging their musical skills and creative focuses together that is the sign of a fantastic band with serious talent, real delicate care for their art, and undeniable personal chemistry. Such is the case with Thrice. Now, that was true of the Californian group on the first few records, but it's also undeniably true of them here on LP #10.

For fans of the more aggressive, punk-influenced sounds of 'The Artist...' era who were disappointed with 'To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere', I have this to say: I implore you to look at these two newer Thrice records from a much wider perspective. Especially 'Palms', with these utterly dynamic and heart-rendering songs like 'Beyond The Pines', 'Just Breathe', and 'Everything Belongs'. Underneath the group's past youthful aggression, odd-meter riffing and speed was always a lyrical maturity and emotional temperament to Thrice’s music that drove this machine forward. Playing fast and loud in itself hasn’t been impressive for a long time now, and I'm not alone when I say that it was this larger depth and scope that also made Thrice’s early work so important. 'Palms' is the full embodiment of this aspect; it is the beauty that occurs when people grow up and lose the bottomless well of energy that fuelled their youth as they adjust their lens onto more appropriate and authentic outputs. The very core of their aged yet fresher sound that first emerged on 'To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere' has stepped into the stunning foreground here. Fingers crossed that they’re around to explore this new phase for a little while longer. Because this new album is just downright incredible!

Thrice are a genuinely important group in the history of alternative music. Fan or not, you’re only doing yourself a massive disservice by giving 'Palms' a miss or a shallow single listen. Fundamentally sounding like the band you know, like the band you grew up on, but at the same time never once interested in re-treading any of their older worn paths, 'Palms' is an exceptional record from a band that's in full control of their creative craft. You truly do not get bands like this every day. Thrice truly are one in a million.

  1. Only Us
  2. The Grey
  3. The Dark
  4. Just Breathe
  5. Everything Belongs
  6. My Soul
  7. A Branch In The River
  8. Hold Up A Light
  9. Blood On Blood
  10. Beyond The Pines

'Palms' is out Friday, September 14th via Epitaph Records & Cooking Vinyl.