For Fans Of
A major/minor musical composition is, as the name suggests, a song that begins in a major key and ends in a minor key. For Thrice, on their eighth studio album, this idea extends further than just the notes that are being played. The contrast between the dark and light is also a representation of the band member’s personal journeys during the making of the record, the most influential being the tragic loss of brothers Ed and Riley Breckenridge‘s Father to Cancer.
To change things up a little, and take some of the pressure off of guitarist Teppei Teranishi, the band decided to work with a producer for ‘Major/Minor‘ as opposed to producing and recording the album themselves, as they had done with their last few releases, 2007/08’s ‘Alchemy Index‘ series and 2009’s ‘Beggars.’ The band chose Dave Schiffman, who had worked with them previously on 2005’s ‘Vheissu,’ bringing him a bunch of demo recordings that he claimed "sounded like they were trying to make a grunge album," but whilst the grunge influence is certainly present, the sound is bigger and more refined than the genre would usually allow.
The record begins with Yellow Belly, which was originally titled Major/Minor due to its musical content, this was the first song to be released to the public in the form of a free download. Written about neglectful parenting, the main guitar riff is a wicked, groove heavy beast that drives the song with the help of a simple, yet solid drum beat. Before writing began the band asked drummer Riley Breckenridge to record a handful of beats to which the guitarists could write riffs over, these beats were then built on in jam sessions which helped to give the album its stripped back, organic feel.
Second track, Promises, was written as a companion piece to The Weight from ‘Beggars,’ focusing on the epidemic of broken families working against The Weight‘s idea of self-sacrificial love to explain the consequences that follow when love fails. Taranishi‘s guitar work in this track ranges from aggressive to beautifully soulful playing supporting the vocals perfectly.
Whilst there isn’t a bad moment on this record some tracks leave more of a mark than others, in particular Cataracts and Call It In The Air. Cataracts is a bright song that stems from the bands collective love of Fugazi, with the bass line in particular being a standout, Call It In The Air begins softly with an hypnotising rhythm which eventuates into some dark and heavy tones whilst still keeping plenty of space between the instruments. The brilliance of Dustin Kensrue‘s lyrical abilities are exemplified perfectly with the song’s coin metaphor.
The record ends with another couple of standouts, Anthology, which lyrically references several older Thrice songs in an idea influenced by The Beatles Glass Onion from ‘The White Album.’ To help give the songs a heavier feel bass lines were written to include a greater use of chords and they are most obvious and effective in this track. The album closes with Disarmed, which features some subtle yet beautiful guitar work in one of the softer tracks on the record, finishing things off with a laid back feel.
Those who have followed Thrice’s career know that this band evolves in leaps and bounds with every release and that their commitment to the finer details of the recording and song writing process means that their records are virtually flawless. ‘Major/Minor’ is no exception and is currently my personal pick for album of the year.
1. Yellow Belly
5. Call It in the Air
6. Treading Paper
8. Words in the Water
9. Listen Through Me