Everyone has to grow up sometime.
Applied to music, this statement often isn't a positive thing. There are too many bands who've "matured" into boring acts, but, rarely some maturation will do a band good.
The Thermals' latest album, The Body, the Blood, the Machine fits this rare mold. Up to now, The Thermals were an incredibly fun, yet disposable band known for simple songs you could sing along with on your first listen. On The Body, The Thermals cast off many of their early trappings like ad-nauseam repetition, and manage to make the leap from a "fun band" to a "good band who happen to be fun."
Make no mistake, The Thermals songs are still straightforward, fast rockers loaded with plenty of catchy moments, and vocalist Hutch Harris still has one of the best can't-really-sing punk sneers in the business. What The Body makes clear is The Thermals are no longer content to be a party band--they want to make you think, too.
As surprising as it is to see The Thermals grow up and develop a political conscience with their incessant tirade against the Christian right, it's even more surprising how deftly they mesh this newfound awareness into their danceable, sing-along aesthetic. The Body, the Blood, the Machine is a rare breed of album, simultaneously filled with youthful fun and sobering maturity.