I first became interested in the Thermals after falling in love with their song, “A Stare Like Yours”, from their 2004 album, Fuckin A. Admittedly, Hutch Harris’ voice was a bit of an acquired taste, but after being drawn in by the band’s catchy melodies and energetic execution, I soon found myself not just tolerating his voice, but being smitten by it.
Their new album, Now We Can See, is both more sophisticated (if you can use that word for this genre) and accessible than earlier albums, while retaining their scrappiness and enthusiasm. It has easily become one of my favorite albums this year.
Whether intentional or not, Harris’ lyrics are thick with Taoist themes and seem to contently observe the ebb and flow of life, celebrating mortality and embracing our return to the elements. Many of the songs are abundant with references to existing in or returning to the earth, air and sea, as in “When I Died”
I took off my clothes / I took off my skin / Started shedding my arms / To start getting my fins / Crawled to the sea / That was calling to me… / I was only just past the low tide / When I died / My head did swell / I said to myself / “Nature sure took her sweet time” / I was already losing my spine
Other songs nod to the Taoist view that life and death are simply a transformation of life-force through cycles in nature. As in “I Let it Go”
I looked my fear in the eyes / Looked at the cold ground below / I knew I could love or die / I let it go! / I let it go! / Four on the floor / Two in the air / Out of the sand / Out of the sky / Into the flow
And “You Dissolve”
You dissolve / It’s just another way you exist / It’s just another way you survive… /It’s just another way you depart… /You dissolve into steam / You dissolve like a dream
I realized yesterday as I was listening to this album on my iPod that I was slowly “starring” every song, marking them all as my favorites. So picking only a few to share is almost impossible, but here ya go.
I Let It Go
Now We Can See