The Thermals

Ever been in a tour van? In ours it was always too hot and one window was duct-taped shut and this kid Alan always had his damn peanut butter everywhere and do you have any idea how much fuel air conditioning requires? Oh, and it wasn't ever a van, either--try two sedans weaving around each other foolhardily on the freeway 'cause 11 kids and their backpacks don't fit into one Econoline and our band isn't called the Get Up Kids. Or whoever.

The Thermals' More Parts Per Million feels almost exactly like that. It's the first album Portlanders Hutch Harris, Kathy Foster, Ben Barnett and Jordan Hudson have made together (though each has played in various indie groups you'll just have to consult the All Music Guide to track down), and this seems to be a fact of which they're very proud: Barnett sprays his fuzzed-out guitar jangle all over the place, Hudson's cymbals ramble like bossy umlauts, Harris yowls with the microphone in his back pocket and Foster--well, I'm surprised to find there's a bass player in this band.

But already they've got that thing that shoots out of basements on sizzling summer nights--that electricity of purpose, of culture-is-fucked-and-I've-got-a-song-to-prove-it, that blows their frenetic lo-fi bash-and-pop up to a size you'd have to be a real jerk not to recognize as your own. "Go fast, go slow, go sly, go low/Where the hell you wanna be?" Harris sings. Right here, in this lane, all the way to Labor Day.

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Mikael Wood

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