Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

The Thermals 

The Body, the Blood, the Machine (Sub Pop)

If we're all caught under the penny loafer of Christian fascism sometime soon, the Thermals' vision of a hectic dash for the Canadian border — one where we're pursued by evangelical thought police — will be vindicated. As it is, The Body, the Blood, the Machine comes off as somewhat paranoid. But while the Portland bandmates are lyrically in Philip K. Dick mode on their third full-length album, they've loosened up considerably since the Buzzcocks-go-to-college geek-punk of their 2003 debut, More Parts Per Million. Recorded without a full-time drummer — bassist Kathy Foster pulls double-duty on the rhythm section — Machine still lashes together the most powerful foundation ever heard on a Thermals record. Singer-guitarist Hutch Harris eases his manic strumming in spots to a nearly folksy pace, and quavers complex, arcing melodies that might make fellow indie/punk classicist Ted Leo envious. The result is an album of range and elegance — including the feedbacky stomp "Back to the Sea"; the rushing, synth-trimmed guitar-pop of "A Pillar of Salt"; and perhaps the band's best love song, "Test Pattern." It's enough to distract from the apocalyptic context: "Now we gotta run," sings Harris, "a giant fist is out to crush us." But you never know: He may be right.

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Speaking of...

More by Andrew Marcus

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation