Those of you concerned that 2016 is the year that the world lost its mind and drove straight off a cliff, take heart – Thrice are still fighting the good fight. The Californian gods of post-punk are back with another cautionary, world-weary message in the guise of their ninth album, ‘To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere’. Even beyond the proselytising, it’s another good record under their belts.
They’ve been plying their trade in this conscientious fashion since the Bush/Cheney era, when tracks like ‘Broken Lungs’ (from 2007’s ‘The Alchemy Index’) preached clear-thinking in the face of (at that point) the greatest disaster imaginable: 9/11. Now the battle is more subtle; the neo-conservative, imperialist politics that NOFX and Green Day raged against have been replaced with an isolationist America (thanks to Trump) that emphasises suspicion towards foreigners both inside and outside its borders. It’s not boots-on-the-ground diplomacy anymore, but Thrice‘s music has always been more about hearts and minds anyway.
Musically, they’ve evolved with the times too. One track which perfectly combines this form and function is ‘Black Honey’. The song delivers a stinging critique of foreign policy over a typical Eddie Breckenridge gut-punch bass line. All the elements that make Thrice are at work here; good riffs, strong character, and a sense of urgency in the telling.
‘Death From Above’ similarly, recounts the story of a regretful drone pilot, and covers some of the heavier material on the record, particularly during an explosive chorus when Dustin Kensrue yells “But I am never sure who I am killing / How many innocents were in the building?”. ‘Blood On The Sand’‘s angle is not hard to work out, and even though ‘Whistleblower’ and ‘Wake Up’ contain obvious political commentary usually reserved for slightly under-informed college bands, the intent is appreciated all the same.
At a time when music can help the people of Standing Rock resist the Dakota Pipeline, and Bruce Springsteen can refuse to play in North Carolina until their trans-phobic bathroom bill is repealed, Kensrue and co. have been quietly pulling at similar compassionate threads all along to thousands of hungry fans. You may not like their Christian undertones, but rationality, albeit delivered in sombre tones, is always welcome. Back from their hiatus, the Thrice machine thankfully rumbles on without missing a beat, and not a moment too soon.
Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)