The sound of a band at the peak of their game.
Mike Haydock 2009-09-16
Thrice’s evolution from post-hardcore kids to modern rock men continues apace with this, their sixth album. If you’re new to the Californian outfit’s music, Beggars will suck you in instantly; if you’re a stalwart fan, this is the Thrice you wanted to hear. They’re at the peak of their game.
Six albums in 11 years is some turnover, and the journey has been fascinating. Surging out of Irvine with bratty anger, Thrice have always known their way around a melody, even if to begin with the primary message was angst. Since 2005’s superb Vheissu, though, the four-piece have marked themselves out as one of the world’s best guitar bands, capable of writing perfect contemporary records that are alive with raw aggression and moving subtlety.
As they’ve grown, and grown up, everything has become more measured, more calculated and more expressive. And while their last (double) album, where they broke their sound down into four elements – Fire, Water, Earth and Air – worked better as an artistic statement than a cohesive listening experience, now they’ve come out the other side, and drawn such experimentation back into a focused, powerful whole.
Beggars feels like the natural follow-up to Vheissu, and while it lacks that album’s jagged, uncertain edge, it still packs a punch, especially in its opening thrust of All the World Is Mad, with its crunching riffs, soaring vocal lines and apocalyptic lyrics. “But the blind lead the blind into bottomless pits,” cries Dustin Kensrue, “still we smile and deny that we’re cursed.”
Fortunately, Thrice aren’t all doom and gloom – second track The Weight has a huge chorus and an eloquent message of love and dedication (“Come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind”), and Circles is one of the band’s most beautiful, plaintive songs to date, building majestically until it touches the sky.
Beggars loses its pace slightly towards the end, but the majority of this record represents some of the strongest work yet from one of the world’s most captivating bands.