Review Summary: Thursday’s growth has been an inventive journey and has culminated in No Devolución, the definitive Thursday record.
Can ten years of progress from the release of an album like Full Collapse mean anything but absolute devotion to one's work? If Thursday's career could somehow be condensed into a single idea or concept, the topic of devotion would be fitting. While their commitment to their practice isn't necessarily what is being covered in their new release, No Devolución and its lyrical focus on devotion and its musical tribute to their growth is a perfect fit for the reputation Thursday has built over the years.
Continuing the musical shift that began with A City By The Light Divided, Thursday and producer Dave Fridmann have come together once again with No Devolución. The fans who found themselves displeased with the production of Geoff Rickly’s vocals in recent Thursday releases won’t find anything redeeming about the production practices of No Devolución, but if this album represents anything, it is the fact that Thursday fans need let go of the band’s roots and accept the change that No Devolución and recent works have brought us. We’ll never hear Rickly’s gritty screams or hoarse singing the same way again, that’s absolutely true. But with the disappearance of old novelties comes a collection of the most dynamic songs Thursday has created to date.
Putting aside my own frustrations with incorrigible fan bases, for anyone to say that this record is any less exciting due to its musical shift isn’t just a misconception on their part; it wildly disgraces its bombastic opening track “Fast To The End.” The introduction isn’t the quiet, experimental child that fans may fear Thursday becoming; it’s a loud, mature declaration of Thursday’s security within their sound. Rickly’s vocal deliveries felt rather comfortable and familiar within the dark edges of Common Existence, but his smooth croons here show off a balance between his gritty, post-hardcore roots and his newfound love for gentle melodies.
While Rickly may be the charismatic lead of Thursday, No Devolución becomes the giant of their career thanks to the impressive sum of its parts. Tucker Rule’s drumming has never lacked, but his display of concise spurts of energy throughout the record keep the album’s beat constant, impressive, and even momentarily thunderous in parts. From the beginning rumblings of “A Gun In The First Act” to the snappy wit of the beat within “Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart,” Rule’s drumming has never been stronger. Guitarists Tom Keeley and Steve Pedulla both manage to keep their riffs above the surface of layered effects that No Devolución is permeated with. The spastic chorus of “Turnpike Divides” gives Keeley and Pedulla playing ground for their old, familiar energy, and Thursday fans will enjoy hearing the storm of distorted guitars and complimentary screams from Rickly. Even the content of the lyrical work harkens back to a Thursday’s traditional feel of desperate energy, “There's a thousand black cars/ driving around in my blood stream/ I'd have to take a thousand pills/to find out where their headlights lead.”
As a rabid fan of Thursday’s past work, I can attest to how exciting it is to hear adrenaline loud and present in No Devolución, even amongst the slower, more spatial elements of the record. But No Devolución isn’t a product of nostalgia, and it would be a disservice to Thursday to ignore the forward thinking heard in moments such as the dark and looming crawl of “A Darker Forest.” Rickly’s voice isn’t the strained, cracking imperfection it once was, and his calls of “Am I really there?” are as haunting as they are beautifully polished. No Devolución is perhaps most unique in the way it handles Rickly’s new approaches in his voice within its sound; “Empty Glass” sees the band give the stage to Andrew Everding’s talent on the keys and Rickly’s mournful croons. It’s a drastic change, and the confidence displayed by the band to find it in their heart to compose such a different, and unique song in their catalogue is impressive in its own right.
Where does No Devolución belong in Thursday’s discography? From the catchy chorus work within “Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart” to the continued evolution from Common Existence heard in the rushing crescendo of ”Past and Future Ruins,” I worry that some of Thursday’s loyalists will incorrectly label this as their odd child, the outcast and mixed bag within Thursday’s family. So I ask this of Thursday fans: put away your Full Collapse vinyl, stop quoting War All The Time, and for God’s sake stop asking for another “This Side of Brightness” as you listen to No Devolución. With Fridmann behind the wheel, Thursday’s growth has been an inventive journey and has culminated in No Devolución, the definitive Thursday record. The past is a beautiful thing to learn from, and Thursday has spent over ten years taking their own lessons with the workings of the music industry, musical growth, and fan dedication in stride. But don’t let your nostalgia, or even this review’s fervor cloud the gem that No Devolución aims to be. Thursday has come a long way since Geoff Rickly’s love of basement shows in Jersey and his romantic idealism about how music ought to be, and the fruits of their hard labor couldn’t be any sweeter.