Audio Mixer: Dave Schiffman.
Recording information: New Grass Studios; Red Bull Studio, Los Angeles, CA.
California alt-rockers Thrice's seventh album furthers the stripped-down, bluesy sound of its predecessor, Beggars, while also embracing the more aggressive and commercial sound established on 2005's Vheissu. Opener "Yellow Belly" kicks Major/Minor off as if it means to continue with a thick rock riff in the Tom Morello vein while Dustin Kensrue directs his anger at what is presumed to be a domestic abuser: "You're less than half a man, yellow belly and crimson hands." Kensrue's religious faith is prominent in his lyrics, having been somewhat played down on recent albums, and tracks like "Treading Paper" and "Listen Through Me" find him at his most inspired, lyrically and vocally. On the former, he cries: "If anything means anything, there must be something meant for us to be, a song we're made to sing/There must be so much more than we can see." For a group noted as innovators, the songs on Major/Minor are unusually structured, with a rigid, grunge-like quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic running throughout. The trick works to beautiful effect on standout track "Promise," a dissonant assault on society's destruction of marriage, and on "Cataracts," in which which Kensrue's vocals are at their most strained and affecting. "Anthology" and "Blinded" are more predictable, though Riley Breckenridge's imaginative drumming, anchored firmly in the pocket, ensures that the formula never becomes completely stale. The record itself is a little awkwardly paced, and this is particularly pronounced at the midpoint, where "Blur," the only true punk song on the record, is sandwiched between the patient buildup of "Treading Paper" and "Words in the Water." It means that, opening quartet aside, the album struggles to maintain a sort of momentum and is a more difficult listen than it needs to be. Overall, Major/Minor will go down as another solid, if unspectacular, Thrice release. ~ Dave Donnelly