Review Summary: Ambitious, heartfelt, a successful emergence from a songwriting transition
Thirstier is Torres's strongest album since Sprinter. For the first time in her career, Mackenzie does not need to resort to self-doubt to craft strong songs, perfecting her formula to work with the sort of "happily ever after" highlight reel that plays over the credits of a romantic comedy. The tracks are for the most part fist-thumping and jubilant, but ooze confidence and passion even when recounting spats or worry. The production backs them up with grandiose walls of guitars and synths, offering interesting solutions when the material sets sail for new influences like folk ("Constant Tomorrowland") or noise rock ("Keep the Devil Out"). This is the record Torres has been trying to make for the past five years.
The album is not without its flaws though. Mackenzie has always been a rather conventional songwriter in terms of structure and cohesion, so periodic attempts to branch out and create more intricate compositions are imperfect. The choice of musical backdrop is also occasionally puzzling (how does "Kiss the Corners" fit with being a dance-like number?). Both of these flaws come together in the bizarre opener, a song that benefits from being listened to as inattentively as possible. Otherwise, the cracks start showing. Why is the verse framed with serene Dinosaur Jr fuzz wall guitars? Why is there absolutely no transition between that and the skittish chorus, however many times the two shift around? Despite said cracks, the song is still very enjoyable as the melodies are on point. The chorus in particular is one of the best moments on the record. Mackenzie should work on smoothing out disparate bits within songs, and she reveals herself to be aware of the problem as the closer uses well placed bits of feedback to help guide the tension.
On the whole, the material is triumphant and infectious, filled with little in-jokes that can likely only be understood by Mackenzie and her significant other. The choice of singles is spot on. "Don't Go Puttin Wishes in My Head" defiantly sheds any adversity, be it the partner's commitment issues or Torres's anxiety, and is all the sweeter when augmented with the knowledge that Mackenzie got proposed to not long after the album got recorded. The arrangement is particularly accomplished on this one, capturing Only by the Night style wide-screen excitement. "Hug from a Dinosaur" is a whimsical little earworm about being head-over-heels in love as you procure lunch for your significant other, or at least that's what I think is happening. While I wish the interlude was worked in better, I'm happy it's there. Thirstier is ambitious, heartfelt, a successful emergence from a songwriting transition. What more is there to say?