The Thermals - When I Died

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[rating:75/100]
The beginning of "When I Died," the album-opener of their upcoming album Now We Can See, sounds like it came off of a They Might Be Giants kids album. This is a compliment- I love They Might Be Giants' kids albums.

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But that is only the beginning of the song, where lead singer Hutch Harris sings "The earth was too hot, the earth was to thin, I took off my clothes, I took off my skin." The song grows into something much more than a simple kids song (about at the point where Harris yells, as if his life depends on it, "Yeah, so I could swim!"), with blaring power chords and a phenomenal display of The Thermals' superb brand of low-fi-garage-power-pop-rock.

And part of what makes this song so great is that even though it has that low-fi garage rock feel, it has a bit more shine and glimmer than other bands of the same variety typically do. The track is polished, with smooth guitars underlying the song and sugar-sweet melodies bridging the gap between choruses. Producer John Congleton has clearly taken some liberties with this record, tightening up the song for a cleaner listen: think a rawer-but-poppier Hold Steady.

As Stereogum said back in January with their Progress Report, "The Thermals have expanded in width as well as depth. That's got a lot to do with producer John Congleton (Polyphonic Spree, Explosions In The Sky). There's a fullness to the tracks that wasn't there before. 'That's definitely John Congleton,' says Harris. 'Every record we've done, we've been lucky to work with a producer who 'gets us,' musically, and emotionally.'

On "When I Died." The Thermals build even further on their stellar brand of polished garage rock, with soaring, anthemic choruses, smooth vocals, and old-school punk lyrics.

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