“Personal Life” by The Thermals – Album Review

Punk-pop over sugary hooks is the game for the Portland-based band, The Thermals. Though “Personal Life” is their fifth album, their sound harkens back to the power punk flare of bands such as (old school) Green Day or Propagandhi. For those who are in their late 20s or early 30s, the band creates an aura of nostalgia that gives a warm fuzzy feeling like cotton candy at the county fair.

The album starts strong with “I’m Gonna Change Your Life.” While that’s a mighty bold statement, the tune chugs at a steady pace and steams with a bit of a pleasant angsty whistle. Yet, while this tune stands alone as a pretty solid track, it also is the beginning of the Achilles heel for the band. To say that the album is overly monotone would be unfair, but it definitely doesn’t stray far away from a singular sound. They have a tone that works and their force comes from the vocals of lead singer (with a name too good to be birth-given), Hutch Harris. Individual songs are fun, driving and have charm. Yet, the collective is a bit bore some after a few tracks.

Like any good pop album, the band tackles the covered-all-the-time topic of love and relationships. Through the “Ohm wah ohm’s” on “Your Love Is So Strong,” Harris slaps down a harsh gauntlet with a “Your love is so strong, it’s only a series of lies.” While an enjoyable fleeting moment of bitterness, it doesn’t quite deliver a believable dose of jilted throwback good ol’ punk.

The Kill Rock Stars-signed trio bookends the album with a melodic “You Changed My Life.” Unfortunately, the brash energy of the opener feels dull here at its counterpart. Overall, the album feels like a middle-of-road effort for a band that can produce some edgier tracks.

Change my life, they didn’t. Rock me for a track or two, sure nuff.

Words: Lori Bartlett

Artist: The Thermals
Album: “Personal Life”
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Release Date: September 7, 2010

THE THERMALS TOUR DATES

09.06 – Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot Festival

09.08 – Bend, OR @ The Tower Theatre

09.09 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom (Music Fest Northwest)

09.12 – Portland, OR @ Kennedy School (You Who Kids Show)

09.25 – Bellingham, WA @ Wild Buffalo *

09.26 – Spokane, WA @ The Seaside

09.27 – Billings, MT @ The Railyard Ale House

09.29 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium (Dempsey’s Upstairs)

09.30 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club #

10.01 – Iowa City, IA @ The Mill #

10.02 – Madison, WI @ The Annex #

10.03 – Chicago, IL @ Logan Square Auditorium

10.04 – Bloomington, IN @ Rhino’s #

10.06 – Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick #

10.07 – Cincinnati, OH @ Northside Tavern #

10.08 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom #

10.09 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace #

10.10 – Ithaca, NY @ Castaways #

10.12 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church #

10.13 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza #

10.14 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club #

10.15 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat #

10.17 – Mt. Pleasant, SC @ Village Tavern #

10.19 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt #

10.20 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In #

10.21 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottle Tree #

10.22 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks #

10.23 – Austin, TX @ Red 7 #

10.24 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater #

10.28 – Denver, CO @ The Bluebird Theater

10.29 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge

10.30 – Boise, ID @ Neurolux

* with Japandroids

# with Cymbals Eat Guitars

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