After imagining a right-wing dystopia on “The Body, the Blood, the Machine” and meditating on death for last year’s “Now We Can See,” The Thermals have chosen to tackle something truly heavy for “Personal Life,” their latest effort.
“It’s about love and about relationships and about how hard it is being in a relationship,” says Hutch Harris, lead singer/guitarist for the pop-punk group based in Portland, Oregon.
Tension reigns over the album as Harris’ lyrics convey the contradictory nature of romance: “I’ll keep you warm at night/ I’ll leave you in the cold,” he declares on the album’s opening track, “I’m Gonna Change Your Life.” Which is it? Probably both. The confusion only continues: “Your heart is so strong, it cracks at the slightest touch,” he sings on “Your Love Is So Strong,” perhaps hinting at the fragile power of passion or maybe just making a sarcastic dig against a self-righteous lover. Appropriately, the album ends with “You Changed My Life,” an aching reversal of the first track’s presumptuous sentiment.
The Thermal’s fans have come to expect such lyrics from the band. “We’ve always taken the lyrics really seriously,” Harris says. “This is what people really listen to on a record and this is what people sing along with.”
Equally compelling is Harris’ distinctively mannered voice: high, nasal and clear as glass. “When we started The Thermals, I started singing a lot louder and harsher, just a punk way to sing,” he says.
No beats missed
Like many bands, The Thermals have been through their fair share of drummers; four, to be exact. Harris isn’t concerned, though. He says he’s confident that Westin Glass, who joined in 2009, is in for the long haul. Besides, he points out, “Nirvana and Spinal Tap went through a bunch of drummers too, so I think we’re in good company.”
Just be wary of bizarre gardening accidents, Westin!