The Thermals

The Thermals

The logical story of the new Thermals album would be: The
Portland band have “grown up”,

shifted their focus from themes like death and religion to love, and adapted their sound to this new direction by slowing their breathless punk rock down a couple of knots.

And ‘Personal Life’, The Thermals their fifth LP, does sound calmer – the only problem is that there isn’t much in the way of emotional depth or grittiness.

‘I’m Gonna Change Your Life’ and ‘I Don’t Believe You’ are, maybe apart
from ‘Power Lies’, the only concessions to the band’s older,

crunchy and noisy sound. The rest of the record strolls around with a
shrug – ‘Alone,

A Fool’ is especially inconsequential and it is left to Harris’ still captivating vocals to hold the listener’s attention.

Have the band matured or just lost their magic touch? ‘Personal Life’ points
to the latter.

By the end of these Olivia Neutron Bomb/Rumplestiltskin/Kiss Akabusi days,
Derwin still had his Tu Pac bandana but his rap dream was over.

In pursuing sampling since first hearing ‘Big Loada’, though, he’d unwittingly laid the foundations for Gold Panda and the ambient, looping techno he produces today.

The thing is, he then didn’t care too much for a career in music – not
until the death of a close friend made him reconsider it.

“I think that’s why the album is so personal,” he says “because I lost a close
friend who was doing techno under the name Subhead and he was always telling me to do music, and I was like,

‘Naaah’, and then he died. He had a stroke and that was it, he was gone. So I was thinking of dedicating a song to him… but he’s dead – he’s not going
to know.

So I thought how about making songs about people while they’re alive so I
have something to show them that I care, and family has been the one constant thing in my life that’s quite stable.

I’m very lucky in that sense. We all get drunk a couple of times a year where everyone will turn up and there’ll be dancing, a lot of drinking,
maybe some drugs,” he whispers.

“We’re all very close. But I dunno, with electronic music how much of that emotion can you put in there without lyrics, apart from naming the tracks?”

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