Saddle Creek | The Thermals | Reviews


The Thermals: Desperate Ground

Author: Michele Yamamoto
05/24/2013 | Under the Radar | | Album Review
Desperate Ground, the sixth studio release from The Thermals, is a collection of short, punchy songs that balance bright pop punk against appreciably darker lyrics, while doing little to carve out the emotional drama called for by the libretto.

Through and through, Desperate Ground evokes images of war and conquest. The album begins with a bloodthirsty soldier's manifesto: "I was born to kill/I was made to slay, unafraid to spill blood on the land/When you command, I will." The acceptance of defeat weighs heavy in "Where I Stand" ("Soon they will come/I will defend/Here, it will end"), with "Our Love Survives" coming in as a rallying speech for the end ("Our love survives/It will always be/No matter if we die or we live eternally").

Our overeager main character moves from song to song with unwavering resolve in pursuit of enemies and in defense of whatever it is he loves. The details are unclear, and the dynamic does little to help clarify.

Vocalist Hutch Harris has less a singing voice than a constant shout chorus, which oftentimes seems to be clipping, enhancing the urgency of virtually every lyric. Inevitably, since the band follows suit, there is little delineation from emotion to emotion throughout the album's arc. Desperate Ground feels more like an unrelenting march than an odyssey. (