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Thursday: No Devolución

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Thursday

No Devolución

Rating: 2.1/5.0

Label: Epitaph

Recipe for an emo album: take one thunderous drum intro, add razor-sharp guitars, mix in some urgent, breathy vocals that lead up to a sweeping, anthemic chorus. Duplicate for approximately 12 tracks. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Thursday is calling their latest, No Devolución, a stylistic departure with a return to the vulnerability of their earlier albums, but after giving the disc a spin it mostly feels like the same old same old. Actually, this time around Thursday’s got a new trick up its sleeve: a bit of shoegaze gloss over their trademark emo. The result? Decidedly uneven.

Surprisingly, No Devolución’s first three tracks crib heavily from one William Patrick Corgan. Heavily, and only somewhat credibly. But the thing about Billy Corgan is that he can write one hell of a pop song, whereas all of these somewhat miss the mark. They’ve got the sound down, but they lack Corgan’s uncanny ear for gorgeous hooks. Opener “Fast To The End” could have been a lesser track on Siamese Dream, and “No Answers” and “A Darker Forest” closely resemble the darker, industrial-inspired sound of Machina/The Machines Of God. This trio sets the stage for an entirely different album than No Devolución actually is. Though feedback from “A Darker Forest” bleeds into the next track, (“Sparks Against the Sun”), the whole Pumpkins-esque trip is unceremoniously dropped, and it’s all emo as usual after that. It makes you wonder if that was more the direction that Thursday was interested in taking this time around, and, if that’s true, why they didn’t just bloody go for it. Sure it probably wouldn’t have been entirely comfortable for them to continue on like that for a whole album, but their probable growth as artists would have been invaluable.

Instead, No Devolución chugs on for nine more mostly forgettable tracks. After the opening troika, the rest of No Devolución sounds generally uninspired, and almost cynical. Part of the problem is that singer Geoff Rickly isn’t a terribly compelling vocalist. He certainly isn’t terrible, but he doesn’t command your attention the way a good frontman should. As the album wears on, he begins to sound like the guy in the cube next to you at work who’s nice enough but complains about everything. Actually, the songs are mostly propelled forward by Tucker Rule’s drums, which give them an urgency they lack otherwise.

The shoegaze influence pops up here and there atmospherically. “Turnpike Divides” starts out as a Foo Fighters-style banger, but cools in the verses with more of that Pumpkins shimmer. “Empty Glass” gets some credit for its slow, Tom Waits-ish, carnival-esque sound, but is sidelined by some terminally silly lyrics (“I lost my wedding ring/ Down the kitchen sink/ Now it’s glimmering somewhere far away“). Terminally silly lyrics are actually an epidemic on {No Devolución}, the silliest and most terminal being “Don’t call on me/ I’m a plastic reed/ Bending in the feigning wind of artificial fields” (?!?) on “Past And Future Ruins.” Hey, whatever gets the kids’ lighters up.

At best, No Devolución can somewhat remind you of other artists you enjoy (Pumpkins, Waits, My Bloody Valentine, even a bit of Fugazi). At worst, it’s paint-by-numbers emo. Hopefully, next time around, Thursday will get the gumption to finish what they start and make good on the promise of artistic growth they showed here. You never know, it could be interesting.

by Ashley Thiry

Key Tracks: Empty Glass, Turnpike Divides

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