The Thermals Personal Life

The Thermals Personal Life
Though the hooks are as unrelenting as ever on the Thermals' latest album, Personal Life, it's a decidedly more spacious affair than the previous two super-stacked outings. Working again with producer Chris Walla and recording mostly live-to-tape, the production is warm and thick, but minimal, perfectly suited to the album's theme ― an ultimately embittered and sarcastic rumination on relationships. Fast, down-strummed chords are set on the backburner for some sick rhythmic flair and nuanced guitar noodling on "Never Listen to Me," while the hypnotic opening riff of "Power Lies" gives way to a melancholic, minor-chord grunge dirge that has singer/guitarist Hutch Harris using that almost monotone sing-shout intensity to great effect. Personal Life doesn't hit as instantly as the last few Thermals releases, but the familiarity of songs like "I Don't Believe You" will hold you over until the rest of the numbers, in their subtle, slow-burning glory, unravel and embed themselves fully. (Kill Rock Stars)