With the unbridled spirit of a gang of children tearing up a birthday party, the Thermals are a fun little band with simple, visceral songs that smack the listener in the face like a rake. This is most certainly punk rock from a smelly garage with a little bit of an art school vibe thrown in. Like the Pixies', the lyrics are often abstract, but sometimes the Thermals sound like they're really trying to make a point about something.
Members of the Thermals were involved in various indie-rock projects before they came together as a trio in Portland, Oregon, and went for something a bit more exciting. After playing only a few shows, they had won over the folks at Sub Pop, whereupon they quickly went about recording their 2003 debut, More Parts per Million, in singer-guitarist Hutch Harris's kitchen, spending all of $60 and coming up with one hell of a punchy, irresistible sound.
On their new record, Fuckin A, the cover of which features a child in a bathing suit flying above an exploding nuclear reactor, the band is still a one-trick pony, but its one trick is full-throttle, ass-kicking punk rock that's as raw as can be and vaguely intelligent-sounding. The romantic "Let Your Earth Quake, Baby" will have the little indie girls fainting. It's either a fairly sexy punk come-on or a love song, while "God and Country" is a political statement of some sort with the lyrics "Pray for a new state / pray for assassination / I can hope, see? / even if I don't believe." Harris sounds like he might be angry on this one.
A lot of his lyrics sound like odd empowering speeches for young punks, as if the Thermals were trying to teach them how to properly rip shit up.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.