The Thermals, 'Personal Life' (Kill Rock Stars)

8
Personal Life
Critical Mass
Label: Kill Rock Stars

by Stacey Anderson

Staunch skepticism propelled the Thermals through their transcendent 2006 concept album, The Body, the Blood, the Machine, as the Portland trio merrily scorned the foundations of Christianity with a pop-punk adroitness that belied their lo-fi roots. That resolved, a thoughtful optimism bookends the band's fifth album, which opens with singer Hutch Harris' recalcitrant claim, "I'm Gonna Change Your Life," and ends with the bittersweet reversal, "You Changed My Life." Along that painful path, Harris harmonizes with bassist-singer Kathy Foster in steady, three-chord entreaties to the lovely Judas who upended him. Newly aching but still introspective, the Thermals remain a revelation.

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