Okay, so this album came out over a month ago, so admittedly, this review is a little belated. No Devolución is the sixth studio album from New Jersey’s finest, Thursday, and sees the band take a different step from their usual post-hardcore stylings.
Now it’s clear from the first listen the album is a completely different sound to that of their previous efforts, but it is still Thursday. As far as instrumentation goes, there are clear instances of experimentation, mainly in the workings of keyboardist Andrew Everding, though these seem to fall mainly on the introductions to most tracks, after that it’s business as usual with verses filled with arpeggiated guitars which crescendo into hard hitting choruses.
It is clear from the get go that one of two things have happened, either Thursday have fallen into the trap of the studio magic demon known as auto-tune or vocalist Geoff Rickly has been working tremendously had on his technique, I hope and believe it is the latter. No Devolución sees Rickly push past the almost cliché “emo-whine” style singing and into a full fledged front man with a great grasp on everything from complex melodies to highly effective uses of falsetto. This album, in terms of vocal skill, is Geoff Rickly’s finest.
What really makes this album unique in comparison to their previous works in the production. Instead of the usual tough, crunchy quite raw sound the band have instead vouched for a much more ambient and almost sub-bass style. This is unfortunately, the downfall of the record. Though Thursday have always had an element of the avant-garde about them, No Devolución pushed this too far and attempts to find a marriage of post-hardcore song writing and atmospheric production, à la Sigur Rós, this gives an interesting outcome in terms of experimentation but ends up playing down on factors that make Thursday the band they are. The main example of this being the vocals which, though as previously said are great in terms of technique, due to the heavy use of reverb results in a very muddy sound. Thursday have always been revered for Rickly’s intrinsic lyrical content, which deals with dark issues coated in idiosyncratic metaphors, this is no doubt the same on No Devolución but the bizarre production techniques makes it much harder for the listener to pick the lyrics out. Think War All The Time in a really big bath tub. The album as far as studio technique and use of effect goes, has a lot of similarities to that of Glassjaw’s recent E.P Coloring Book, perhaps this pairing of post-hardcore/ambient/dub elements is the inevitable future of this genre.
No Devolución is by no means Thursday’s best album, it doesn’t even compare to an album like Full Collapse, but it isn’t a bad record by all means. It boils down to what is technically referred to as a “Marmite situation.” Listeners looking for a more melodic, ambient Thursday will love it. People looking for a more raw, old school sounding album, probably won’t.