For their tenth album, Thrice have created a monument to their own relentless need to evolve their sound and executed it perfectly.
In ‘Palms’, bubbly synths, sprawling electronic soundscapes and even the odd harp in ‘Blood On Blood’ counteract the driving post-hardcore power that has become second nature to the Californians in their 20 years as a band.
Despite crafting an album that breaks new ground with fresh twists and innovative sounds, the standout track and crowning achievement of ‘Palms’ is the very first song. ‘Only Us’ takes dark - Stranger Things-esque - synths and balances them with bruising riffs in an anthem that cries for unity in our current social climate. It’s guaranteed to a colossus when its performed live.
Elsewhere, lead single ‘The Grey’ and ‘A Branch in the River’ are a bridge from predecessor ‘To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere’ with that same grit and immediacy that made their reunion album a force.
But, Thrice are all about evolving, not recreating, and so they shake it up thanks to the brooding temperament of ‘The Dark’, the euphoric ‘Everything Belongs’, and the ethereal ‘Just Breathe’.
And, while sonically the album is more expansive, Dustin Kensrue’s vocals remain centre stage. Those crystallised vocals are at their best in the closing number ‘Beyond The Pines’ which brings ‘Palms’ to a dreamy if not slightly anticlimactic ending with Dustin’s gently purring about the promise of so far off utopia.
Overall, the constant pushing of their boundaries is what has made Thrice so special over the last 20 years, but since their hiatus, they feel less shackled by a need to be different. In albums like ‘Vheissu’ and ‘The Alchemy Index’, the musical direction felt like “the concept” and the band seemed contained to a certain style but, in ‘Palms’, the changing of direction flows with much more freedom and the bar they raised when they returned from their hiatus is raised again.