Record Review - 6 July 08 2004

Portland trio the Thermals pound, scrap and gouge two-minute songs chipped from a fuzz-lined gale that twitches as insistently as the studio needles that the band’s lurching jangle pushes well into the red. Plowing through the thorny underbrush and the headlong, stinging backbeat, the threesome straps a tarp between the bowing branches and limbs, capturing not only the wind but the hail on 12 songs across the 28 minutes of the group’s sophomore release, Fuckin A.

An auditory, though far from revelatory, improvement over the group’s four-track debut, 2003’s More Parts Per Million, the studio captured but not overly cleansed Fuckin A (recorded with Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla) provides listeners with more of what More Parts made previously known: There’s little more effective than three shambolic chords and the truth. Unlike on More Parts, the topics on Fuckin A are politically charged, and the sheet lighting continues unabated for the album’s entire (brief) length.

Lead singer Hutch Harris rails against the government, his nasal naysaying chants backed by the type of messy, noisy pogo-worthy fits of joyous swinging squeals that seemed to go the way of Superchunk’s youth, and a more spastic Guided By Voices’ sobriety. Is there a lot of variety between songs? No, not really. Is there little more than bad policy in contemporary politics? No, not really. In the near future, both formulas could use a boost; but one is currently a hell of a lot better for bouncing breathlessly around the room when you feel like letting off some steam about either.

The Thermals play the Earl Tues., July 13, 9 p.m. $7.