For the most part, we as a generation have been let down as music fans, both by ourselves and by our heroes. As our parents pay thousands of dollars to see Bono pull girls on stage, we wait for three forty-somethings with fart jokes to release their comeback record; we beg for a sequel to Translating The Name; we wonder why A Thousand Suns was so awful. As listeners, we have looked to the wrong sources for generational relevance and always ended empty handed. We’ve never found that band.
With Major/Minor, Thrice refines and perfects a sound culminating from 13 years of experience, creativity, experimentation and wisdom. No detail from the history of Thrice goes without influencing some aspect of the sound here, with traits from all across their discography making the record.
Beggars is here, and should be the first influence you notice. As vocalist/guitarist Dustin Kensrue mentioned in an interview earlier this year, “the next record will have the least jarring change that we have had between records for a long time.” It’s an accurate self-assessment; the 2009 album is the closest structurally to what is presented on Major/Minor, since the band continues to experiment within a more modern rock setting. Songs like straightforward, riff-heavy rockers “Blur” and “Blinded” wouldn’t have been possible had Kensrue and guitarist Teppei Teranishi not gone for a classic rawness on Beggars. A new focus on groove adds a life you didn’t realize was missing from their last album, even making that record sound hollow in comparison to newer tracks like “Cataracts.” Kensrue attacks each aforementioned song with more aggression than we’ve seen in awhile, all effortlessly in a way few vocalists could replicate.
The Alchemy Index is here, and each volume takes its turn appearing throughout Major/Minor. No riff had taken the space or demanded the attention of “Firebreather” until “Yellow Belly” was released. The anthemic energy and presence from “Anthology” and “11 Disarmed” owe gratitude to Vol. II: Water‘s choruses and “Broken Lungs” from Vol. III: Air; Thrice took the epicness there and multiplied it exponentially through perfect, swelling builds. Even Vol. IV: Earth (or maybe Kensrue’s solo Please Come Home) weighs in on things via the vocal melody to album-standout “Treading Paper” (note the rarely used Kensrue falsetto appearance).
Vheissu is here, though it’s mostly in their shared reverence and wonderment. Like that record, this one has a grandeur feel, imparting its monumental importance and making other music seem pale in comparison. A full-listen to Major/Minor can only end with pure awe, the way many felt about Vheissu. The difference is the former’s perfection was a surprising leap; the new album’s excellence is in spite of absurdly high expectations from a hard-to-please crowd. And like any perfect record, Vheissu was a product of its own past through the evolution of The Artist In The Ambulance, The Illusion of Safety, and even Identity Crisis.
Even after outlining the decorated past, some of the album’s brightest points have gone umentioned. The haunting beauty and tremendous, harmonized climax of “Words In The Water” make it one of the most important songs in Thrice’s library and a perfect show closer. Though everything could have ended there, “Listen Through Me” immediately owns your next 4:38, largely due to the fantastic playing of drummer Riley Breckenridge; only on your second listen through Major/Minor can you comprehend his importance to the album. The same goes for his brother, bassist Eddie Breckenridge, an integral part of the band and as a much a star as any of his bandmates. To not mention either would be a travesty.
In fewer words, the above tells the story and reasoning as to why Thrice is the band we’ve been searching for. Our band. Continued evolution and excellence are rare traits, and a record like Major/Minor is even rarer. You will know every lyric, listen regularly, show every person willing to listen and play for your children as a key part of their musical upbringing. This record is essential in every way. Until you can teach its importance to others on September 20, 2011, just know that Thrice has delivered their masterpiece.