Album Review — Thrice
Thrice — Palms
“Palms” was one of my most anticipated albums from the moment I heard it was coming out. I am a huge Thrice fan and their last two records are among my favorite albums of all time. So needless to say, I had high expectations when I received the CD on Friday morning. This review is going to take some time so prepare yourself.
I was a little surprised when the opening track, “Only Us”, starts with keyboard. Thrice has very little up front keyboards in their entire catalogue. I wouldn’t call “Only Us” a typical opener for an album as it’s more mid-tempo, but it’s very moody which fits the album’s themes. The bass is very pronounced and carries much of the song. The bridge is very Thrice-like with Kensrue in full throat. “There’s no them, there is only us” is the refrain that sticks as the song ends and sets the main theme of the album.
The album’s first single, “The Grey”, is next. Lots of guitar here as this is more of what I was expecting. Simply put, this is one of my favorite Thrice songs ever. The lyrics are so thoughtful as Kensrue bares his struggle to live in the uncertain. “I’ve had enough of black and white, I’ll find another way, I will lean into The Grey”. Just a fantastic song.
“The Dark” is next and is more of a plodding, moody song. The band involved their fans as they asked folks to sing the chorus “No we’re not gonna sit in the dark anymore” and send them in. The song ends with this fan choir singing through the chorus with very little else. It’s a cool way to involve their fans and it fits the song well.
The bass again takes center stage on “Just Breathe”. The opening verse has an early 80s U2 vibe to it. The chorus is more ambient than you’d expect but it works. Kensrue’s lyrics shine again “Stay deep in the moment, just breathe, feel the flow of all things in the moment’s sway.” Cool song.
Another curve ball is next as “Everything Belongs” starts with a piano and Kensrue singing in a lower register through the first verse. I’m reminded of U2’s “Song for Someone” as the song builds. Kensrue reminds me of Bono as they are both masters of expression through their voice. Kensrue invokes so much emotion as the song rises and falls. It’s hard to pick out just one lyric as this song is truly wonderful, but “I’m finally seeing that our weakness makes us strong — I’m finally seeing that everything belongs” stands out as my favorite.
“My Soul” is another moody track. If I have any issue with this record it’s that it could use another one or two heavier songs, especially near the top. This is the one song that stays pretty much the same tempo throughout. “Are you ready for my soul? What if I’m broken from the start, and what if I never heal?”. Heavy stuff.
“A Branch in The River” sonically reminds me of older Thrice. There’s definitely a more raucous and raw feel musically and vocally. Kensrue is more reserved with his full-throated vocal these days but he’s still got it when the songs calls for it. “Let go now, it’ll be ok; let go, and let yourself be carried away”. Kensrue is both self-reflective and directive without being preachy.
“Hold Up a Light” is another album highlight. Another pronounced bass line drives this building song as the chorus busts through “Hold up a light until the morning comes, hold up a light until the world is won”. Reminds me of “Blood on the Sand” from their last record. Great song.
“Blood on Blood” is a scathing rebuke of the treatment of “others” similar to “Only Us” at the top of the record. This is another song that reminds of me a modern version of early 80s U2 with that pronounced bass line with the guitar over the top. “We’re gearing up for a holy war, it’s either them or us. So ship ’em off to another shore, but it’s still blood on blood.” Strong.
“Beyond the Pines” closes out the record and as with most Thrice records, it’s a slower, reflective song and one of their best. “I will meet you there, beyond the pines, templed in twilight or dawn; the light and easy air tracing the lines on our palms”. The album ends with Kensrue singing of a place of hope which is much needed after the heavy content of the record. A beautiful end to the record.
This album is not perfect. It’s a little shorter that I’d hope and could definitely use one or two heavier songs. But this record is an experience. It’s moving and thought-provoking and makes me want to listen to it again when it ends. And for me, that’s what music is all about. To make you think and to move you and then to make you want to do it again.
Overall — 95 out of 100
1. Only Us
2. The Grey *
3. The Dark
4. Just Breathe
5. Everything Belongs *
6. My Soul
7. A Branch in the River
8. Hold Up a Light *
9. Blood on Blood
10. Beyond the Pines *