Review Summary: Thrice have set the bar so high with their last few releases that even THEY can't even come close to matching it with Beggars.
Who remembers the time when Michael Jordan started playing baseball in 1993? It was a very interesting move. His late father inspired him to try out baseball; it would be the greatest form of respect to his father's wishes if he were to become a successful baseball player. So, was he successful then? Well, Jordan was better at baseball than MOST people. However, it can easily be said that he did not have the instinctive talent for baseball that he did for basketball, and this is further proven by the fact that he went on to become somewhat of a deity in the realm of basketball, a legend that arguably has not been reached since his retirement.
This misstep into baseball, this step into a weaker direction, is what Thrice have gotten themselves into with their most recent release, Beggars. As I mentally run through their previous albums, I can single out particular things about each of the albums that I loved. Vheissu had incredible replay value, sense of emotion and power, and The Alchemy Index warped the entire world around the listener to fit the given element. What can we say about Beggars? Well...
It feels like a shallow release, even to this self-proclaimed Thrice fanboy. Don't get me wrong; it certainly has its moments. "Circles" is simply stunning in every way, and "Beggars" is a tune that steadily builds upon itself, out-chugging itself like a freight train gaining velocity, with every new instrument added.
While we're on the topic of instruments, let's continue to talk about the instrumentation of the album, which is where I have to give major props to the band. Dustin Kensrue has never been a gutsier frontman until Beggars, crooning his (spectacular!) lyrics of wisdom. However, the top performer here is drummer Riley Breckinridge, playing simple beats in incredibly innovative ways. The very start of the album actually consists of one of his creative pieces, for example. So as a whole, Beggars is impressive, but once the initial gleam wears off, there aren't many things to come back to this album for. That's what frustrates me; Thrice have a pretty good CD with Beggars, but a great one is to be expected from them. And after hearing the entire CD about ten times, I was ready to put it back up on the shelf and move on to something else new.
That's the thing. There's no connection that I feel with Beggars- its core is too hit-and-miss for me to gather more of a meaningful experience from. It almost seems that where there is a highly interesting lead to a song (I'm talking about you, Doublespeak and At The Last!), a sub-par second half negates it. Where the lyrics completely shine in "The Great Exchange" and "The Weight", (the former speaking of a ship captain that sacrifices himself for his back-stabbing crew-mates, and the latter being a crafty love qualifier), the actual music doesn't really go anywhere, and drains potential out of the song. Where are all of the breath-taking moments that we've come to expect from you, Thrice?
In the end, this is just a die-hard fan stating his concern, just like the Chicago Bulls fan that was dying for Jordan to return to basketball. Sure, Thrice is good at what they did on Beggars, without a doubt, but the boys in flannel still have a lot of potential to live up to, and making music with pesky inconsistencies won't contribute very much to that pool of things they can still achieve.