Sound — 9
Upon listening to the first track on Thursday's latest record No Devolucion, I almost had to double-check that I was listening to the correct band. What you'll hear on the sixth studio album is a huge leap away from the screamo or emo labels that often get associated with the New Jersey band. There are a few straightforward rock moments on No Devolucion, but the vast majority of the 12 tracks contain that oft-talked-about wall of sound and a production value that is pretty seamless. Call it maturity or whatever you'd like, but it's an impressive turn on Thursday's part and producer Dave Fridmann has crafted a pretty seamless album. You could easily deem No Devolucion as a lush, sonic record thanks to the layers upon layers of instrumentation (or at least that's the way it comes across) and rich tones. While plenty of Thursday's previous records are filled with fairly straightforward rock/screamo/post-hardcore tracks, No Devolucion is more akin to the dreaminess of a Death Cab For Cutie album. Well, at least for a good chunk of it. Fast to the End is a fitting opener because it delves into the many soundscapes that Thursday delves into through the record: ethereal, sonic, experimental, and intense. Definitely pay close attention to the solo work of Steve Pedulla and Tom Keeley on that particular track, as they take experimentation to the nth degree and the solos have a wacky-yet-intriguing quality. A bit part in the musical change is vocalist Geoff Rickly, who trades in his guttural screams for more of a pleasantly mellow style. In fact, at many points, the mix leans so heavily on the side of the instrumentation that you can barely make out the words that Rickly utters. That aspect just adds to the dreamy nature of it all, and Rickly's harmonies on A Darker Forest have never sounded better. That's not to say the album is completely devoid of screams, but the moments are very far and few between. Keyboardist Andrew Everding's talents are utilized in full, with the synth often sounding like a full-fledged orchestral string section. Drummer Tucker Rule has some of the most inspired moments on the CD, going for a primal vibe (Past and Future Ruins) in one minute and restrained-yet-somewhat-frantic (Magnets Caught In a Metal Heart) in the next. Thursday truly has transformed themselves into more of an ambient group with arrangements that seem almost grandiose at times. Open Quotes does feature more traditional riff work, but No Devolucion is about much more than cool licks and catchy hooks.
Lyrics — 9
In many ways, the lyrics are quite a secondary feature of No Devolucion if only because Geoff Rickly's vocals are so muted and/or understated. But in the moments that the words do come to the forefront, they are of a much more mature variety than ever before. The main standout is the solemn, haunting Empty Glass, which features the reflective lines, I lost my wedding ring down the kitchen sing; Now it's glimmering somewhere far away; Now I'm sitting here in an empty glass; Waiting for the day to swallow me whole. There's a whole new dimension to Thursday's lyrical content that is both refreshing and quite apt for the musical undertones.
Overall Impression — 9
If you haven't been fond of Thursday's creative choices over the years, it's encouraged to give No Devolucion a listen. This is a band that has put quite a lot of thought into the musical arrangements and obviously don't feel like they need to fit some cookie cutter image from the past. Some might say it's a little too ambitious, but Thursday pulls it off well. No Devolucion may possibly alienate some fans, but it's highly likely that the band will gain newfound respect from plenty of newcomers at the same time.