Epitaph Records post-hardcore band Thrice is back with their tenth studio album, Palms— their second project since returning from a four-year hiatus in 2015.
Musically, Palms has something for everyone, ranging in style from soft and folksy to their trademark heavier brand of alternative rock. The album is perhaps the most diverse the band has released since 2005’s Vheissu.
The lead track is “Only Us,” which opens up with Eddie Breckenridge throwing down a steady dose of bass before a beautifully balanced synthesizer mix is layered with smooth and locked-in vocals from front man Dustin Kensrue.
Thrice is not afraid to address deep and challenging topics lyrically, as evidenced from the top by asking when we will have had enough division, violence, and separation from others. The chorus pleas for unity: “Finally when will it be enough / To find there’s no them / There is only us.”
The album continues with that theme of human contention while provoking thoughts on how to make the world better. “The Grey” is the first single from Palms. The tune is a toe-tapping rocker about embracing life despite anxiety and doubt while the band shows off their edgier side.
Palms includes a perfect blend of upbeat tracks as well as ballads, like “Just Breathe.” The softer side of Thrice underscores arrangements that bring pleasant vocal harmonies to the fore. This is even more evident on “Everything Belongs,” a continuation of the theme of unity and how everything works together to make us stronger. “I’m finally seeing how the spaces make the song / I’m finally seeing now that everything belongs.”
The best (and hardest) track on the record may be “Hold Up A Light.” Stylistically similar to “Blood on the Sand” from To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, this track opens with hard-driving rhythmic percussion laid down by drummer Riley Breckenridge that provides the backbone for this hooky headbanger. The song encourages listeners to hold up a light in the darkness and “raise your lamps a little higher up and til the world is won.”
The record winds down with “Blood On Blood,” with guitarist Teppei Teranishi setting the table with a folk rock feel. Kensrue hits the high notes here as the theme of struggle for reconciliation continues: “Where’s the world we’re dreaming of / Cause I’m waking up / It’s funny how we show our love / We need a better blood on blood.”
“Beyond The Pines” is the closing meditation here, softly reflecting and bringing the painful wrestling to a conclusion: “Somewhere down the road is a place that we can go where everyone / And everything is divine / And when we’re all awake, we can finally make an end of these / Divisions in our minds.”
Easy to listen to, raw west-coast rock and roll with a perfect blend of electronic vibes combine to make Palms a forty-minute musical and spiritual journey well worth embarking on.
Related artists: Switchfoot, Audio Adrenaline (Mark Stuart era), House of Heroes