The Thermals
Desperate Ground


3.3
great

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
April 17th, 2013 | 15 replies | 5,283 views


Release Date: 04/16/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Desperate in name only.

It’s easy to like The Thermals but hard to really fall in love with them, and it all comes back to The Body, The Blood, The Machine.

That album is a pretty much agreed-upon classic, and for good reason too. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time. But it’s different from everything else the band has released, and because of that, The Thermals are often relegated to the status of a one-album-wonder. I don’t share that opinion. I think that Now We Can See and Personal Life, the two albums released after The Body… are amazing. But they’re different. They’re simpler, more repetitive, and not as immediate.

Desperate Ground is similar to those two albums, but it seems to also be filtered through what the band did on The Body, The Blood, The Machine. This concept made me excited initially, but in reality the album is a little too one-note to truly be great. Granted, with The Thermals, one has to temper their expectations. This is fun, catchy music before anything else, and while I embrace that, it also makes me a little bit sad. The Thermals have always seemed to me like the second coming of The Pixies; that is to say, they are a high-energy rock band that combines both a love for the mainstream and for the underground. Desperate Ground leans a little bit too far toward the latter and suffers because of it. It’s a loud and brash album, but too often, that’s all it is. There is one volume throughout, and the same distorting effects are present on Hutch’s voice in every song.

I guess what’s missing is urgency, which is weird because the pacing and lyrics of the album make it sound urgent at first. Desperate Ground is violent, gleefully dripping with blood, and it never slows down. But what made The Body… so great was its narrative intricacy; it really had the feel of some sort of indie thriller film, with a camera that captured both the paranoid, frightening moments and the beauty of being on the run with someone you love. This album is blunt, both in its sound and its lyrics (really, just look at the song titles to know what Hutch will be shouting a few times in the chorus). It’s still The Thermals, it’s still catchy as fuck, and I’ll still turn the volume way up when I listen to it in the car this summer, but they’re capable of more than this.



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user ratings (29)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2013



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

hopefully this doesn't stop anyone from listening to the thermals if they haven't checked them out. they really are great.

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2013



10312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

was just going to ask you to review this

Digging: Literature - Chorus

JumpTheF**kUp
April 16th 2013



2710 Comments


i've always been reluctant to listen to the other thermals albums and i guess that won't change with
this one

and great review as always

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2013



23804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ahhh damn, I hope I like it more than you.

did you enjoy Personal Life more than this? (I'm guessing "yes" as you called it "amazing")

either way, I'm definitely gonna go catch them live at the end of May. Their set at Sasquatch 2011 was absolutely glorious, best mosh-pit of my life.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2013



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

yeah personal life is really good, some of my favorite thermals songs are on there

there isn't a song on this album that i dislike, but they all just sort of blend together. it's still a good listen if you're a
thermals fan. 'faces stay with me' especially is really great

Spare
April 16th 2013



5271 Comments


expected this kinda review yeah

wat do you think of fuckin' a tho chan

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 17th 2013



23804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I would consider myself a fan, even though I've only heard Personal Life and Body, Blood, Machine

gonna check this out

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 17th 2013



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

fuckin a is a good album, a stare like yours is one of their best songs

TheNexus100
April 17th 2013



2518 Comments


had no idea the body the blood was an agreed upon classic

Spare
April 17th 2013



5271 Comments


the more u kno

Winesburgohio
April 17th 2013



1013 Comments


'That album is a pretty much agreed-upon classic'

that's a bit of a stretch

Digging: Gordon Ashworth - S.T.L.A.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 17th 2013



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

wait are you telling me that not every single person in the world literally thinks that it's a classic

because that's totally what i meant

Blackbelt54
April 18th 2013



4269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review, this album is fun but a bit repetitive

I love the body, the blood, I need to check out their other albums

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 19th 2013



23804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm digging this pretty hard on listen 1

LilLioness
April 22nd 2013



2496 Comments


I checked the stream back when it was on P4k. I figured I wouldn't like based on the first few songs.



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