atharsis, according to dictionary.com, is “a release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit.” Inherent in the loud guitar and screaming vocals of Thursday is the undercurrent of cathartic experiences. By using a second singer underneath Geoff Rickly’s lead vocal musings, which we will get to later, as a screaming counterpoint to every lyric that Rickly intones, the group seems to embark on a journey that inevitably seeks to evoke some sort of catharsis, by song’s end.
The only problem with this reading of the screamo genre is that the screaming counterpoint vocals tend to permeate every single song, somewhat negating the possibility of a single cathartic experience. In fact, the whole exercise tends to be almost an endurance contest between audience and musician over the course of an LP’s length. This was broken up nicely by At The Drive In on Relationship of Command by allowing for breaks of energy and time for reflection by the listener, while enjoying a degree of experimentation from the group. Overall their most atmospheric and varied record, Relationship of Command became the group’s most successful release on the strength of great singles, but succeeded even more because it was a great album.
Thursday have the great singles, “Understanding in a Car Crash” emerged from nowhere to become a staple on M2 in the spring of this year. “A Hole in the World” contains a driving melody bolstered by a chugging rhythm section that holds the song together beneath Rickly’s vocals. Turning the song from merely another boring retread of the emo-esque musicianship here, the song ends with a simple piano melody being repeated beneath painful screaming that reminds vaguely of John Lennon’s “Mother”.What Thursday have not produced on this album, however, are the variance required to lift this album from simple retreads of the same material. In fact, it seems that Thursday have produced two great songs and the rest merely attempt to mimic the trappings of the genre to try to capture a certain cathartic magic. In the end, it turns the album into less of an enjoyable listen and more into a chore.
Portions of songs exhibit obvious skill and technical proficiency, but are quickly ruined by Rickly’s vocals or other elements that intrude on the small moments of interest. Unfortunately, and this may be due to the reviewers penchant for IDM and other forms of experimental music, the most interesting tracks are the opening and closing ones. Clocking in at a total of two minutes combined, “A0001” and “1100” mix a simple guitar melody and production effects to allow the listener an amount of respite from the ensuing screaming and loud guitar work. Overall, it’s a solid second effort for a band in this genre, but money would be best spent on picking up something like The Blood Brothers March on Electric Children or At the Drive In’s Relationship of Command for something of more variance and overall enjoyability.