Thursday released Full Collapse over ten years ago. A lot has changed in ten years in almost every aspect of life. Technology has made leaps and bounds of progress, we’ve seen wars on different fronts, and the future has never been more uncertain. A lot of the issues and circumstances being fought out now are just rehashings of old problems that have bubbled up to the surface again. Many of these issues are new challenges we face. Thursday is a great indicator of what it is to adapt and evolve into challenging times.
As the title suggests, Thursday doesn’t cheaply try to “return to their roots” but seeks to evolve their sound—a sound that for a very long time, seemed to be wholly theirs. This record is not Full Collapse Volume Two. It’s arguably not a hardcore record; it’s not really a post-hardcore record. This record is more Disintegration-era Cure than the New Brunswick basement scene. More Explosions in the Sky than The Explosion. More Joy Division than You and I.
Full Collapse fundamentally changed the way I looked at music, and with this record Thursday continues to challenge their fans.
“Fast to the End” is our opening track that has a sort of drum-and-bass combo that is distantly reminiscent of At the Drive-In. There is clearly something different going on. The synthesizer and the bass are much more in the forefront than what seems to be more textured layering of the guitar tracks on this album. Geoff’s vocals are also much more relaxed, and padded with much more reverb.
Songs like “No Answers”, “A Darker Forest” and “Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart” leave me wondering if this is even the same band. There is a much more ambient and deliberative feeling to this record (not surprising given Dave Friedman produced one of Mogwai’s records). These two tracks both have a big focus on a rising action that ultimately comes to a breaking crescendo (think Godspeed You! Black Emperor more than random hardcore breakdown and chugga-chugga-wee! breakdowns).
“Sparks Against the Sun” leads us into more familiar territory. This song is more akin to past Thursday songs such as “Standing on the Edge of Summer” or even “Signals Over the Air” but still has a distinctly different feeling from those songs coming in with a more ethereal and drawn out musical progression.
“Open Quotes”, “A Gun in the First Act”, and “Millimeter” are arguably the more aggressive tracks on the record that fans looking for the “old Thursday” will feel most comfortable with. “Turnpike Divides” is another faster song that older fans will like, but would have felt out of place on other records. A lot of these songs are still very much everything we think of when we think Thursday as a band, but there is a lot more atmosphere. There’s still a lot of rise-and-fall taking place musically, but it’s not as traditionally structured post-hardcore rise-and-fall. It’s very much the band deliberately taking their sound and running with it musically.
“Past and Future Ruins” again hints more at the lean on post-rock than hardcore as the intro slowly builds for over a minute into an almost tribal drumbeat with Geoff’s vocals and sparsely strummed guitars that come together into a cohesive verse. We see a return to the guttural screams that made a lot of the backing vocals on previous records sound great—here they seem almost out of place and unnecessary. It is possible that I am just nitpicking here, but I think the track would fair a bit better without them.
“Empty Glass” opens with an organ shyly playing as Geoff’s vocals eerily creep in stating: “I lost my wedding ring down the kitchen sink. Now it’s glowing somewhere far away. Now I’m sitting here with an empty glass waiting for the day to swallow me whole.” There’s an almost intense level of closeness involved with this track as it feels like the organ is in the room with you as Geoff vents. It’s an almost unsettling feeling. Other instruments creep into play as the song winds down.
“Stay True” is an excellent example of how a band can take everything that makes them great and pack it into one song. A beautifully crafted eight-minute long track that builds upon itself to break and bend as it wills; a crescendo into a more cohesive logical sequence comes as Rickley’s vocals howl over pronounced bass lines and often distant sounding guitars that come back to cut like knives only to return to a more nuanced focus in the last minute of the song. A great ending to an album that, as I now listen to, seems like such a logical step forward. It’s reminiscent of “Homesick” off of Disintegration in a lot of ways, marking the end to an album that I’m sure we will continue to discover new things we like about it each time it’s listened to.
Ten years ago, when Full Collapse first came out, I was twelve years old, in middle school, and totally convinced that one day I was going to be a professional skateboarder. My two goals, and aspirations of that era, were to 1. Become a professional skateboarder; and 2. To kiss a girl. If these were still my goals ten years later, arguably I would be a failure as a person. Times change, people change—and with that, bands change and evolve. No Devolution is not the same Thursday that made Full Collapse, and they would be doing a disservice to us as fans, and themselves as artists if they tried to make it any different.
Thursday has always had a niche within the scene of being a band that came out of a scene that produced numerous copy-cats and, there’s really no way around it, a lot of really shitty music. But they have always managed to produce music that was genuinely inspiring and beautiful. This album is probably the boldest step in their evolution as a band. This record is no doubt darker, and more atmospherically heavy and ominous than anything they’ve produced so far (and that says a lot: remember the split they did with Envy?). I do not know where they plan to go as a band from here, and I do not really care. To me, they will always be that band that changed it all, and the fact that they continue to redefine and not devolve is a great service to the hardcore and post-hardcore community.