Review Summary: Songwriting & musical potential is evident, but this debut is brought down by raw production and a short running time that contains too much filler, repetition & padding out.
It is always a rather interesting and fun experience when you take the time out to listen to a debut album by a band that goes on to become rather successful. Sometimes it does lead to disappointment and/or apathy, but on those few occasions where the experience is rewarding, it makes it all worthwhile. On the majority of occasions though, the conclusion lies somewhere in between. It’s more a matter of spotting the potential in amongst it all. That is most definitely the case with Thursday’s debut offering ‘Waiting’.
Many first-time listeners would place Thursday well and truly amongst the post-hardcore genre. And those listeners wouldn’t be wrong either. But judging by this debut offering, lurking in the background there is clearly a band that has the capabilities to branch out into a number of directions. There are most evidently touches of alternative-rock apparent here, but what is most interesting are the leanings towards a more indie-rock feel to it all, both in the musicianship of the slower tracks and lead vocalist Geoff Rickly.
In fact, Rickly may ultimately be the factor that determines whether someone loves or loathes Thursday… Not just on this debut, but over their entire career. He almost sings with a British accent at times and it lends something a little different to his (and his colleagues’) screaming. When this is partnered with a very strong songwriting prowess at times, there is much to like of Thursday as a future force, if not a total success initially.
Those songwriting skills are immediately called into action on the very good opener ‘Porcelain’. In amongst a metal-sounding riff and occasional background screaming, there is a rather melodic lean that accentuates the meaningful lyrics dealing with death & suicide. The production is raw here, but that actually assists the song placing seemingly more importance on the words. Also interesting lyrically is track 3 ‘Ian Curtis’, which deals cleverly with a past relationship by placing it at a point in time that is musically significant (the death of Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis). The structure of this track is also good as its slower mid-section almost brings the listener’s attention to an important stage of the song. It’s a shame the ending is overlong & repetitive.
The slower-mid-section and overlong formula is used once more in the mid-album track ‘Streaks In The Sky’, but apart from occasional hints of melody, the song is rather forgettable. The most melodic and accessible offering here is track 2 ‘This Side of Brightness’. But it is also probably the song that suffers most from a lack of production and refinement, as the vocals do not stand out sufficiently. It is somehow effective in meshing strings and a crunching beat fairly successfully though and that is not an easy task to accomplish.
The latter half of the album is fairly forgettable and there is a little too much recycling of ideas evident, which is definitely a negative considering the album is only 9 tracks and 34 minutes in length. Both ‘In Transmission’ and closer ‘Where The Circle Ends’ contain very good, and at times, haunting guitar work, but the vocals unfortunately don’t match that quality. Meanwhile, track 7 ‘Dying in New Brunswick’ does stand out due to its meaningful lyrics and suitably emotional vocals which place it right up there amongst the album’s highlights.
Like some other debut albums, this is a tough one to rate. It’s difficult too rate too highly in isolation, but it is also difficult to completely ignore the various potential that is evident at stages. Songwriting is above average for a post-hardcore act, while there is a genuine feel that Thursday brings enough variety to the table to possibly result in them carving out a nice little niche sound in the future. The production value is rather raw and while it does assist some of the more meaningful songs, it also makes those lower down the totem pole totally forgettable. What ultimately brings this album down though is its running time. At 34 minutes in length and including a 2 minute instrumental, it basically requires little filler, repetition & padding out. Unfortunately all those traits do exist here. I know it’s a tough call, but I’m going to just fail it!
Recommended Tracks: Porcelain & Dying in New Brunswick.