Released: Aug 11, 2009
Genre: Experimental Rock
Number Of Tracks: 10
Beggars doesnt quite match up when put alongside Thrices other work in terms of large-scale majesty, but cant find that excellence from another source.
UG Team, on august 11, 2009 4 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: Thrice are an evolutionary band, one who probably couldn't repeat an album if they tried, so I'll begin with a disclaimer: change is easy to accept with Thrice but it takes a significant amount of time for their music to expand and blossom in your mind. You may remember my unending praise for their last work, The Alchemy Index' (though I am clearly not a Thrice fan for giving their live album a 6.5/10, thanks guys), but something about the hurriedly-released new effort Beggars' didn't rub me the right way on the first listen. It seemed to have taken the mature' route one step too far at the expense of the sort of large-scale majesty fans are used to hearing, and ended up as the sort of music that is far more fun to play than it is to listen to. Of course, digging deeper is a necessity if you are to find out where a new Thrice album fits alongside their others, and this time you might have to trade your shovel for something a little more substantial; not for the hunting of hidden treasures as was the case with Vheissu' or The Alchemy Index', but to find what gives the album a place amongst those hallowed halls.
Through their ever-appreciated studio blogs and videos, the band gave fans some ideas in advance of what the album might sound like by saying they were trying to give Beggars' a more energetic, heavy sound after the sleepy' feel of the last two albums. Nobody could be blamed for interpreting this as a way of saying it would be a return to roots' album, but The Illusion Of Safety' Pt. 2 this is not. In fact, in places it's just as mellow as any of their other recent albums, if not more so. The difference is mostly made by drummer Riley Breckenridge who pins down the clean guitars and whimsical vocals with distinctive beats which perhaps try a little too hard to put snare hits in unconventional places. These tracks carry the feel of a rock n roll recording themselves through the transparent and unglamorous production, but the heavier, faster songs put that across musically too; Talking Through Glass' and All The World Is Mad' have been gritted with the salt of the blues but immediately the mind begins sketching links to The Artist In The Ambulance' in their sense of urgency.
Despite the band-in-practice-space method of songwriting, the guitar work in particular sounds almost like the Earth' disc would have if it had been written for the standard rock band. On the topic of the rock band', the organic sound of the album can also be attributed to the surprising absence of instruments outside of that setup; there's minimal tinkering outside of the occasional keyboard or shaker and that keeps proceedings simple, as was the intention. // 7
Lyrics: The highly self-contained nature of The Alchemy Index' wiped Thrice's musical and lyrical slates clean in terms of what might come next, but the restrictions of the four elements helped Dustin Kensrue write some deeply moving and beautifully written lyrics and his total freedom this time has left the lyrics somewhat mundane in comparison. The August 11th release date is a response to a leak and is only for the digital version, so there are no pages from which Dustin's words can spring, but even when listening lines and phrases don't often jump out of the track, Circles' being a fine exception. Maybe it's the dull artwork, but the majority of the songs don't strike me as being particularly appealing in a literary way, and that limits how well the songs' messages can really be heard and understood. Those messages vary from the stockpiled (All The World Is Mad', Doublespeak') to the fresh and compelling (Beggars', Circles') but as always Kensrue's natural linguistic flair means everything works nicely so the best ideas are written out to their fullest and the least inspiring topics are always worth listening to, at least.
The biggest surprise about Beggars' in the vocal department is the fact that it is the first Thrice album ever to feature absolutely no screaming whatsoever. That influence can be heard in the growly inflection on songs like At The Last' but unfortunately the music just doesn't call for his domineering roars as it never reaches that level of intensity. Most of Kensrue's singing is in part an extension of his performances on the Earth' disc and his solo folk album, Please Come Home' and this compliments the guitar parts of Teppei Teranishi and Kensrue himself excellently. Sadly, not all of the softer songs on the album have been given strong and memorable melodies which leaves them as indicators only of their potential, and not their perfection. // 7
Overall Impression: The term thinking man's music' is the sort which is generally seen to be positive as egos can flourish under the guise of the thinking man', but in this case the term applies in a different way. It's a good album to take in and analyse, but cannot just be put on and felt from start to finish as an experience. Highlights like The Weight' and In Exile' are truly wonderful but some of the other songs are a little too dreary to keep things interesting and collectively don't have enough impetus to flesh out the whole album.
Since that first listen my view of the album has been through many different stages, I've dug into each corner and every aspect of the sound and I've searched for a full understanding which puts Beggars' up there with the band's best work but it hasn't been found yet. Hopefully in time things will begin to unfold but the truth of this record can't be that far-removed from its face value; a good album, for what it is, which has some great songs but is ultimately a disappointment. // 7
Oneirogenic, on august 17, 2009 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: With each new release Thrice manage evolve their sound in unique ways attempting to please no one but themselves. With their previous release the 4 disc epic "The Alchemy Index" they found a way to split the many facets of their sound they started developing with "Vheissu" into 4 very stylistically different EPs. After branching out into so many directions you would think they would go for topping themselves by making the most progressive and experimental album they have done so far. I was picturing "Vheissu" kicked up several notches. Thrice took an unexpected left turn with Beggars. This is by no means a bad thing. Whereas "The Alchemy Index" songs were built from the ground up piece by piece often with the help of a laptop and often strayed away from the traditional "rock band" sound, "Beggars" is clearly a product of pure chemistry from a band that has played together for many years just getting together and jamming out. As a result "Beggars" is far more raw and straight forward but there are definitely little tidbits of the tricks they learned putting together "Vheissu" and "The Alchemy Index". One noticeable difference is that the roaring rhythm section of Ed and Riley Breckenridge is no longer as understated as they were on many of The Alchemy Index songs. They are loud and aggressive on this album but more in a groove oriented sort of way than a heavy sort of way. Dustin and Teppei's guitars seem a bit understated in terms of technical prowess albeit loud and gritty sounding in many areas. They seem to have gone for a more soulful feel. Teppei's keyboard work is prominently featured in a few tracks but overall many of the unique sounds and instruments used in the past are absent. This really contributes to the rock band feel of this album. Key words when describing the sound and feel of this album would be "groove" and "soul". // 8
Lyrics: Dustin Kensrue never fails to deliver with his vocals and lyrics. Vocally he seems to have taken a lot from the style he has developed from his solo efforts and the Earth Disc. A big change from past Thrice records is the absence of screaming. There is plenty of his well pitched yelling and even more of his soulful croons and softer singing. Lyrically "Beggars" is also a departure from previous albums. Rather the many literary references and somewhat cryptic religiously tinged lyrics he has done in the past he opts for more of a storytelling perspective. He sings from the perspectives of dying man realizing he wasted his life (At The Last), a wandering homeless man (In Exile), a man on deathrow (Wood and Wire), to criticisms of humanity's foolishness and evil (All the World is Mad, Circles, Beggars). Kensrue is definitely good at finding some sort of theme to link the songs together for each Thrice album. "Beggars" may not have the usual intellectual head games but the lyrics are great nonetheless. // 9
Overall Impression: Beggars may not have the huge grandiose sound Thrice has had on their latest albums but it still stands strong amongst the rest of their discography. Obviously anyone hoping for a return to the Illusion of Safety and Artist in the Ambulance days is going to be disappointed but I think many agree that with music and great bands evolution is better than stagnation. Thrice may have gone in an unexpected direction but they did it well and with amazing musicianship and humbleness. In the end Thrice have left themselves in a good spot after releasing this record. They can continue to do whatever they want in future efforts and it won't be so shocking or unexpected. Just hope they continue to use the good judgment they have used thus far. // 8
kungfuwikawika, on september 25, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The overall aesthetic aspect of this album is more of a progression from The Alchemy Index's earth disc, but with electric guitars and more raw feeling I believe. The guitars aren't always screaming in your ear this time around for this new release as some expected, and truth be told, it's not a bad thing at all.
Dustin and Teppei manage to create guitar work that both complements the new direction, and manage to maintain a certain type of Thrice feel.
Eddie (bass) plays the bass in a very unique way in this album. The presence of the bass is well known throughout the songs. Especially in the first 6 tracks. It seems to play as it's own instrument and not so much with the drums like most bands do.
Riley's drumming is very present and throws in beats that catch you both in rhythm, and style. Seeing as it's the only percussion instrument on the cd, he manages to play in a clean and catchy way. There is some odd timings on the CD but it's nothing to fret about. // 7
Lyrics: As always Dustin is a very articulate and intelligent person. The lyrics on this album tell their own separate stories. Although upon first listen most people will say this album lacks intensity and just because we don't hear his voice screaming at you, it's no reason to think intensity is lacking. Once you give this CD more than 3 or 4 listens you'll soon understand this CD shines because the songs all get you thinking individually about their specific theme and topic.
The style of vocals on most songs compliments the music very well I think. It never feels like Dustin should be softly singing instead of singing his heart out etc.
It's done and it grasps your ears and it lets you know the feeling of the song and it transcends your mind and gets you to feel the song for what it is really, and not just for the sound it makes. // 8
Overall Impression: As a Thrice fan I know not to expect the same thing from any album they put out and this album was no exception. It came out, and it delivered a new experience just as I expected. So this album fits perfectly with all their albums in chronological order. You'll know when you hear it.
This album has some excellent tracks, my favorites are, The Weight, Talking Through Glass/We Move Like Swing Sets, The World Is Mad, At The Last and Beggars. (I Know that's like half the album too.)
The thing with Thrice is that they always come out with a new sound on their albums and there is always something to expect and it's great because you learn to love it and accept it. Maybe even let it open the door to different styles. This cd is very "Soulful" and Blue's-like in certain aspects and yet maintains that trademark Thrice sound.
This is an album I think that really speaks to a broader audience in terms of music and it's good, I think a lot of people should pick it up, or borrow it from a friend. I hope that if you do, you learn to love it as much as I have. // 9
unregistered, on october 08, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound of the album is eerie and very melodic. Which I enjoyed tremendously. Sure Thrice has changed their overall sound but not to the extent to where they're an unlistenable band. I got into Thrice around the time Vhiessu came out and my liking for them has grown more and more after every album I've bought. Dustin Kensrue has to be one of my favorite vocalists, he really has this voice that just draws you in, especially in "Wood And Wire". As soon as I heard him sing the first verse I got the chills. I think "Beggars" is one of the best songs to end an album. It had me playing the album over and over. // 9
Lyrics: Dustin Kensrue has always had amazing lyrics that just tell a story and draw you into the song and I don't know how he does it. He is a gifted lyricist and singer, the album doesn't have as much screaming as previous albums(for example "The Illusion Of Safety" or "The Artist In The Ambulance")but I don't see that as a bad thing, it really just shows more of Dustin's vocal range. Lyrics that I find were the best from the album were "Beggars","In Exile","Circles", Wood And Wire", The Weight", and "Doublespeak". When Dustin sings the line "If there's one thing I know, in this life, We Are Beggars All" I can't help but get goosebumps, and if just someone's voice can do that, Wow, what a vocalist. // 10
Overall Impression: One day I played all Thrice Albums From "New" to "Old" and I saw a major difference but in a good way. Thrice have managed to make every album different from the previous, which I admire most about the band.I'm not one of those music listeners that complain about bands changing their sound because in the end it's the same band they just are trying new things. Yes, I'll admit some bands end up just getting worse once they change their sound but someone ends up liking it right? And that's what makes us different and able to express our opinion. Now before I get all off subject I'll conclude my review.If I lost this album I'd definitely buy the album again, no doubt about it. // 10