ALBUM: The Thermals – Desperate Ground

Release Date: April 15th, 2013
Label: Sub Pop Records


Political punk has been known throughout the career of The Thermals but as of late, politics in the form of own opinions have taken a back seat. ‘Desperate Ground’ takes an anti-political standpoint. It isn’t so much forged by opinions and debates, but transfers over to a more idealistic and informative ways. It’s as if they have pulled away from the constant throws of political action, taking a back seat but watching from a distance.

They still have their unique heavy sound, but it seems that the move from forceful politics has perhaps lightened the style that The Thermals are known for. ‘Desperate Ground’ is an album that is a hit or miss with fans, but they still remain the powerful trio, resulting in being perhaps the worst and best thing they have ever produced.

This is an album that holds the perfect attention capacity, clearly demonstrating the intense songwriting process. It takes a lot of time and effort to create something that doesn’t hold the repetitious spell which many others seems to be divulging in. Six albums strong and The Thermals have still exploited the spirit of the true punk sound.

The energy and passion is merciless, it plays throughout each album, through how they approach each track and how they put their music across through playing, but it’s the topics that are touched in ‘Desperate Ground’ that depicts their unrelenting attack on the injustices in the world through the use of political concepts in their music.

There’s something that comforts within the first few seconds of the opening track, ‘Born To Kill’. The deliberate pause between the opening line “I was born to kill” sums up The Thermals perfectly, reflecting that of ‘born’ and ‘kill’ to a point of fear and safety. It’s a great punk song to start off the album, enticing you to need more, and that’s exactly what follows throughout.

‘You Will Be Free’ takes form as the onlooker to ‘Born To Kill’ and it becomes clear that what we’re listening to is more of a concept album as it tells the tales of personal demons that conflict to the main character of the album. There’s something that demands our full attention, and perhaps the unhinging on a concept album is what makes this the worst and best thing they have produced.

In a way, ‘Desperate Ground’ is the ideal sixth album and by releasing a concept that depicts the political side of war, love and personal opinions it pushes this album above the rest. The Thermals have taken a back seat in forcing their own opinions and it definitely works well, it’s more of a reflection and not a response to the horrors that go on in the world.

Written by Yasmin La Ronde