Thursday are my gateway drug.
Metaphorically of course. I first listened to Thursday after reading a Featured Artist review on MX and bought War All the Time shortly after. At this stage of my life I had recently discovered the mainstream hardcore/pop infusions of bands like The Used, but still dabbled in extremely popular Nu-Metal acts such as Linkin Park and P.O.D.. Upon first listen I didn’t care much for the raw(WAtT was quite raw compared to what I was listening to at the time) sound but something about them enticed me to listen again, then again. Soon I was entranced by the suburban inspired lyrics, the unique guitar riffs and the chaotic yet often melodic vocals.
I was sure that this was it
, that War All the Time was musical perfection. I was wrong. I searched forever and ever and finally found Full Collapse. This album did not leave my car cd player for at least a month in and a half. I was astounded that War All the Time could seem so weak in comparison to an earlier album.
So when Thursday went back into the studio to record ‘A City By The Light Divided’ I was quite anxious about what the result would be. When the six demo songs leaked I nervously downloaded them and listened to try and get a glance at what was to come. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety I heard in the demos and how fresh the felt. Finally, as the date of release neared, Thursday uploaded their entire album onto Myspace. I almost yelped in anticipation as I began listening to the first song. DId Thursday deliver? Can they top their masterpiece, Full Collapse? Or will this album fall short of even War All the Time? Since these are all opinions I’ll save them for the end. For now:
A City By The Light Divided
The album starts out The Other Side Of The Crash/Over And Out (Of Control)
, which is a response to Understanding In A Car Crash
from Full Collapse
. The song begins with the pounding, distorted guitars that have commonly opened up Thursday albums, then shifts during the verse to ambient guitar with a prominent bass line that moves as a melody along with the vocals. These musical aspects of the verse reflect that of Understanding In A Car Crash
as well as some of the lyrics seem to look back at the song as a time of vocalist Geoff’s life, such as:
“Car crash came and car crash went, so I went along with it."
The album moves along to Counting 5-4-3-2-1
, which is the first single Thursday released. Echoed shouts of “5-4-3-2-1, what are you waiting for?" reverberate around you during the chorus and you can’t help but feel as though your caught up in some aggressive protest. Geoff shows that he still has quite a bit of writing talent in the second verse:
“All his life he lived in this same house.
Same white fence surrounding him, he swore he would get out.
But he cant cause his foot got caught in between in the rails.
And all his friends were all up ahead
They cant hear him yelling, yelling for some help."
The song gets rather repetitive near the end and what you are left with in your head is yourself chanting 5-4-3-2-1 over and over again. This song just seems to rub me the wrong way, it seems too much like a theme song than something Thursday would do.
We take a jump from here to the mellow but passionate Sugar In The Sacrament
. The guitar opens up with some medium tempo picking and builds into the chorus as Geoff’s voice pushes and pushes into the climactic chorus. The instruments drop out for the bridge and ambient sound pulses forward until Geoff cuts in with:
“This is all we’ve ever know of God, fly with me, let me touch you now"
Conviction grips his vocal performance and you can’t help but feel a shiver down your spine as he erupts with the final shouts of the song.
“Ok", is how Geoff begins At This Velocity
, a fast tempo song with fast riff changes and constant quick transitions between shout and scream. At This Velocity
is quite relentless in it’s pounding until the bridge where it slows a bit, descending octaves and light melodic vocals set the mood for decrescendo of the song.
We Will Over Come
opens up with some string texturing and almost skips the verse before launching into the choir backed chorus and then back into the verse. The song steadily slows down from its upbeat tempo until it recovers in the bridge where a contrast is formed between the chorus of voices and Geoff’s shouts.
Here is where the album splits, the song, Arc-lamps, Signal Flares, A Shower of White (The Light)
, seems to act as a intermission. Although it hasn’t been clarified for me there seems to be some concept that this song is the “Light" that divides the “City" in the album title A City By The Light Divided. The only really obvious difference between the songs on the first half and the second half is that the first seem to have more energetic, driven songs(with the exception of Sugar In The Sacrament
) and the second half seems to contain the downbeat, yet epic songs. Anyway, this song is, disappointingly, bland and skippable as it is really only a simple keyboard riff backed by simple drums and some guitar noodling.
As we hit the second half of the album we are introduced to Running From The Rain
. A song which, while it stands alone well, seems rather out of place on this album. Let me explain what I mean, Thursday’s music has always had a strong sense of contrast to it, the end of A Hole In The World
featured the contrast of light piano chords to strong emotional screaming, Steps Ascending
almost stops all sounds in the bridge to contrast the build up that follows, many of the songs on A City By The Light Divided also feature such sharp contrasts. Running From The Rain
really doesn’t have any of that, it slowly builds and falls from verse to chorus. This makes the song seem like it probably shouldn’t be on the album, it’s a pretty good song with some powerful lyrics such as:
“So we forgot our names
lying in the tall grass
underneath the billboard dreams."
But it just falls short of expectations.
Telegraph Avenue Kiss
opens up with some strong lyrics then is joined by the rest of the band in a mid tempo march into and energy filled chorus. Near the two minute mark the song shifts and changes from being carried by a light mallet part to the angelic peaks of Geoff’s voice and makes for some interesting layering.
The album moves into one of it’s more powerful and epic songs, The Lovesong Writer
. Opening with a soft simple guitar line, Geoff coons out innovative lyrics about an insecure artist. The chorus crunches down atop the verse and Geoff voice soars over the distortion with “The songs that he writes, are too personal, he can’t play them for anyone". The bridge explodes with trading vocals and then Geoff singing “Sing for me, Sing for me, Sing for me now" and ends in prolonged static.
As we rush Into The Blinding Light
it takes on a pulsating ride that feels like a nighttime roller coaster ride or a high speed car chase. Nothing particularly notable in this song happens until Geoff begins to sing “Please someone help me..." and the guitar shifts. The vibrant, speeding guitar and synth part at the end definitely gives a feel of motion and textures the song well.
The album concludes with possibly the longest song Thursday has ever done, Autumn Leaves Revisited
. Starting softly and coming out strong at about the 1:30 mark then droping back down to the sounds of an acoustic guitar(Seriously? Thursday and acoustic have almost never been in the same sentence) before gradually crawling into a crecendo. The song ends with the lyrics:
“The leaves will fall
so will you
when you do bury me under them too
seconds pass we’ll make it through
eventually we all are going home."
Thursday set the bar high for themselves with War All the Time
and more importantly Full Collapse
. Did they deliver? It’s really up to you. You can compare A City By The LIght Divided
to their previous releases with skepticism and claim it’s not really “Thursday". My opinion is that this album is Thursday’s heart and soul, that even though some of the tracks fall slightly short of perfection, the ones that do hit the mark hit it high and make every second of this album worth a listen. Thursday IS a new band, having three years since War All the Time
has definetly changed them, I think for the best.