Desperate Ground need not be a desperate buy. The Thermals, who are Hutch Harris (vocals and guitar),Kathy Foster (bass and vocals) and Westin Glass (drums) have created an energetic, frentic and urgent sounding sixth album.
Desperate Ground describes the overarching theme of murder and death; perhaps the desperation of those facing them. Opening track and opening single Born to Kill is a two minute warning shot across the bows. The video, which is a tad NSFW, is as violent as the subject manner. Unless you work for a shadowy Government agency whose existence is deniable!
The pace continues through the next two songs, but takes a slower but no less immediate turn on I Go Alone. It’s the most anthemic song on the album and even though it clocks in at a brisk three minutes and fourteen seconds it’s the longest track here.
Vocally there are touches of early Killers era Brendan Flowers here, and musically speaking I can hear touches of Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem. The bass of Kathy Foster is the driving force here; almost Peter Hook-esque in its prominence if not pitch and tone.
Aside from the visceral power that the album has, it’s also full of pop. This may come as a surprise but The Thermals clearly have an ear for melody, and it really does shine through here. You Will Find Me has a chorus that could lift off the roof of even the most secure house. Closing track Our Love Survives is about as close to a ballad as The Thermals get to.
For dark pop you’ll do a lot worse, but not much better, than this. It’s made the transfer to my phone.
Desperate Ground, by The Thermals, is released on the 15th April on Saddle Creek Records.