Hot and Cold, But Mostly Hot

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

By John Bohannon

In an age where bands are trying so feverishly to be original and more times failing than not, there is one thing that stays true for damn sure: If a band can churn out genuine rock 'n' roll, folks will sing their praises. The Thermals have been in the workshop studying Stooges production qualities (or lack there of) and the relentless energy of Guided By Voices records to a science to deliver The Body, The Blood, The Machine.

Although the Thermals went a bit glossier and steered away from the extreme rackety lo-fi elements of previous release More Parts per Million, the record still reminds me of the first time I heard The Stooges' Raw Power. I put it in at about mid-volume and all of a sudden the paint is damned near tearing off my walls from this massive explosion of energy. When The Body, The Blood, The Machine takes off, it's a brutal assault of beefy guitar tones (which were said to be recorded on one of those travel handheld Marshall amps - who would've guessed?) and a vocal styling that leaves me convinced that Ted Leo and John Darnielle (Mountain Goats) somehow tied their vocal cords together.

Even after the loud guitar and gritty production, The Thermals still find a way to follow the pop song format. "A Pillar of Salt," the album's first single, plays its cards right by throwing in off-kilter lyricism with guitar hooks that make a fat man want to jiggle. But the album doesn't come without flaw. The energetic, crunchy power chords kept me listening, but when they threw in the long-winded, mundane "Test Pattern," the album's momentum hit a brick wall. Although the remaining four tracks on the record carry the energy over from the first half, one should skip over the track to hear the album's full listening potential.

The Body, The Blood, The Machine is a gem helping save pure rock 'n' roll in a year where it has struggled to say the least. Although I worry for The Thermals' future, due to each album's progression production and accessibility wise, this album is arguably their best to date. Beyond all the nonsense that has left music at times seeming bland and superficial, count on the Thermals to put all of the insincerity in its place.

Warm up to the Thermals at