2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
portland lo-fi = good,
This review is from: More Parts Per Million (Audio CD)
It seems that everything coming from America these days is rock-by-numbers, uninventive and uninspired. Sub Pop probably realised this, and that’s probably why they unleashed The Thermals onto an unsuspecting world. Probably. Far from being generic rock, the Thermals exhibit a distorted, twisted lo-fi sound where songs are ejected at roughly 200mph before disappearing even quicker than they arrived.
Opener ‘It’s Trivia’ is one of the more relaxed songs on the album in terms of tempo, but definitely sets the scene for the rest of the album as vocalist Hutch Harris half sings/screams over the top of the simplest of two-note riffs and distorted drums. It’s like the best bits of Ikara Colt, Mclusky and the Parkinsons all rolled into one. By the time second track ‘Brace and Break’ kicks in, swiftly followed by the single ‘No Culture Icons’, the Thermals sound like they’re at breaking point. This is probably because “More Parts Per Million” was recorded on a 4-track in Hutch Harris’ bedroom, so the mix is incredibly “dirty”. If you’re looking for glossy, hi-fi, expensive production music you’ll have to shop elsewhere.
Similarly, if you’ve heard a Thermals song and are unimpressed, you’re probably not going to like this. There is only one sound on this album: fast, loud, distorted lo-fi-punk. There is no big anthem and no Slow Song About Love. Normally this singular sound would be detrimental to an album, but “More Parts Per Million” just isn’t long enough to get boring. With the average length of a Thermals song being two minutes, this 13-track album is over within half an hour. None of the songs are long enough to get boring, and this means you’ll always want more. This in itself showcases the incredible songwriting talent evident here, as each song (no exceptions) is laden with catchy choruses and easy riffs.
It’s hard to describe what’s “missing” from this album, but it’s not perfect. It’s hard to give an album five stars when it’s shorter than an episode of Eastenders. Though it easily bears repeated listening, the lack of variety means you won’t listen to it as often as the “classics” you have. If you’re interested in lo-fi, no-fi, distorted punk give this album a try. You will not be disappointed.