Release Date: Feb 17, 2009
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
Although initially a leading light in the screamo/post-hardcore scene, Thursday began to transcend that movement in 2006, when A City by the Light Divided introduced an emphasis on dynamics and melodic nuance to the band's sound. Three years later, Thursday continue to buck trends with Common Existence, another melody-focused album cut with longtime Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann. Common Existence bears some trademarks of the band's classic screamo assault, but those aspects pale in comparison to Fridmann's own contributions, which help replicate the massive, multi-layered production found on his recent projects (including MGMT's Oracular Spectacular and Longwave's Secrets Are Sinister).
Review Summary: This isn't your older brother's Thursday.Thursday have come to the point in their storied career where they hardly need to change to make a statement. With their last album, A City By The Light Divided we saw an often softer, more electronic side of Thursday that certainly took a few listens to latch onto. Now enter, Common Existence, an album deeply rooted into their hardcore/screamo roots with a touch of their previous releases lingering.
The fifth album from New Jersey post-hardcore/emo champions Thursday sees them once more pair up with producer Dave Fridmann, offering a bruising, nuanced set where Geoff Rickly’s poetic leanings are offset by humongous riffs and occasional exercises in brooding ambience. Dedicated (among others) to the memory of US literature wunderkind David Foster Wallace and featuring a poem in the liners by esteemed Chilean author Roberto Bolaño (author of the horrific and ceaselessly compelling fact-based 2666, where “the secret of the world” might be hidden in the hundreds of brutal killings of young women taking place in an endemically violent Mexican border city), it sees the group address struggles universal in their themes. Rickly relays his tricksy verse with all the fervent ardour of a man wrongly condemned, while its artwork is a stark assemblage of black-and-white photography.
This New Jersey band deserves props for surviving its stint with a major label that never quite knew how to handle their brainy post-hardcore jams. But throughout Thursday’s return to indieland, singer Geoff Rickly and his mates threaten to overdose on their newfound freedom: Common Existence is long on complicated instrumental textures and twisty-turny song structures yet woefully short on the fist-pumping melodies that keep this kind of stuff from sounding like musical math. As a result, tracks such as ”Last Call” and ”Subway Funeral” are easier to admire than to enjoy.
If there was ever a band on which the reductive “emo” albatross was unfairly hung, it is Thursday. At a passing glance, the band might sound like blindly fired angst and formless guitar blasts. But more often than not, if you give the band a chance they will surprise you. So it is unfortunate that marketing might keep them stuck in the Hot Topic ghetto, since Common Existence shows that, once again, they deserve a look from a larger audience.
Melodic post-hardcore act Thursday has had an interesting career. The group gained a massive following after releasing its earlier albums Waiting and Full Collapse, jumped to a major label and released two flawed, yet sophisticated albums: War All The Time and A City By The Light Divided, both featuring newly added keyboardist Andrew Everding. Now, after releasing Kill The Houselights, a concert DVD/retrospective documentary and a CD collecting their b-sides, Thursday has returned and more than ever shows its hardcore roots with Common Existence, its debut on Epitaph Records (that’s right, I said Epitaph).