Thu, Feb 12, 2009 (midnight)
Geoff Rickly & Co. never quite established themselves as hit-churning chart-toppers, particularly after clashing with both Victory and Island Records before joining punk stalwart Epitaph late last year. The Jersey sextet that helped establish the screamo movement ultimately valued artistic merit over creative compromise, allowing scores of also-rans’ careers to rise and fall around them, often within the course of a single album.
There’s nothing catchy or sing-along-ready about Thursday’s fifth full-length, a dense, ruminative affair that deepens the grasp of the band’s post-hardcore roots even as it widens the reach of its experimental branches.
Credit the return of producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, MGMT) with focusing the technical meanderings through themes of death (“Beyond the Visible Spectrum”), war (“Friends in the Armed Forces”) and the passage of time (“Last Call”). It’s no coincidence that at least three tracks pay homage to literary influences (David Foster Wallace, Cormac McCarthy, Martin Amis), as the Taste of Chaos headliners’ visceral, painstakingly arranged narratives have effectively become multilayered novellas in themselves.
Calling the effort a more mature direction would be a misnomer and clichéd, yet it’s a decidedly adult step all the same. Thursday’s Existence—both the album and the band’s career—remains less a violent flare-up than a slow, steady burn, providing a reassuring warmth regardless of seasonal change.