Release Date: Jan 24, 2011
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Math Rock, Neo-Prog, Prog-Rock
The final sounds of Thank You’s 2008 record, the startling Terrible Two, are of an exhausted organ fading reluctantly into silence. That nine-minute title track isn’t so much punctuating coup de grace for these favored sons of avant-garde rock from Baltimore as much as it is a statement of unfinished business. Terrible Two was the uncatorgorizable trio’s second album and a stylistic breakthrough.
On Golden Worry, it’s hard to say what Thank You is so uneasy about. With the flames of two melting candles bent by an invisible wind as the cover art for the Baltimore band’s third full-length, you get the sense that you are on shaky ground and that it will be reflected in the songs as the details behind the ominous foreshadowing present themselves. Yet the music itself refuses to exhibit any such insecurity.
Baltimore trio Thank You have spent the past five years honing and dissecting their sound at regular intervals. Obtuse and unrelenting, their discordant racket serves as a soundtrack to their native city's bleak industrial climate, in the same way Big Black characterised mid-Eighties Illinois or Pere Ubu a decade earlier with Cleveland. Their cross-pollinated genre hybrid ranges from the angular verges of post-punk, through to leftfield abstract noise via occasional slabs of dissonant funk when least expected.
After former member Elke Wardlaw relocated to Berlin, Thank You’s Jeffrey McGrath and Michael Bouyoucas picked up a new recruit in drummer Emmanuel Nicolaidis, who, along with the two core members, plays a little of everything on the band’s sophomore album, Golden Worry. This is a new approach, with additional layering in the production, be it vintage organs and mini-Moog keyboard parts, or subtle additions like harmonica or jaw harp. Still, it isn't as if the band is losing sight and switching over to chamber pop.
When Baltimore became home to the alternative music scene to talk about, the eclectic collective of musical talent posed a bit of a problem to journalists. Namely, how to describe the scene and sound. All the underground and independent musical movements in America’s recent past had a mess of bands that shared sonic sensibilities. There was Seattle’s grunge scene, Chicago’s industrial sound—every sub-genre of hip-hop from juke to bounce had a distinct hometown flavor.
That the cover of Thank You’s first LP, Golden Worry, seemingly pays homage to that of Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation makes sense only a couple minutes into the record. Thank You’s sound is fierce and propulsive, even cacophonous at times, with a kind of frustrated, pent-up optimism. Throughout the record, rapid-fire, tribal drums buttress similarly rapid-fire, prismatic guitars, wriggling among their higher registers, pounding out sixteenth-beat strumming, or otherwise gyrating, warbling, grinding, and crashing into the walls.