Indie rock records rarely come as good or interesting as The Thermals’ third album; ‘The Body The Blood The Machine’ is, in a nutshell, brilliant and one of the few genuinely great concept albums of the last ten years. Following the story of a couple fleeing a fascist fundamentalist religious government, it never runs out of ideas (unlike their next record ‘Now We Can See’). Frequently satirical and snide, Hutch Harris’ acid tongue hits its target nearly every time and he never sounds defeated, but effortlessly cool and amusing (or occasionally anxious), ridiculing the guilt and shame Christianity inflicts upon its believers as well as the sheer absurdities and atrocities within the bible itself (“We’re building a boat, We’re gonna create The new master race ‘cos we’re so pure; Oh lord we’re so pure”). This record is also the band’s melodic and creative peak; everything is focused and there is no room for throwaway tracks; whenever a lyric doesn’t quite hit its point, the music will make up for it and vice versa. Pretty much every track on this record is pure gold in one way or another and the worst track on it (‘Back To The Sea’) is still pretty good. This is the album that ‘American Idiot’ wishes it was and never can be.
A lost classic of both indie rock and concept albums, The Thermals have built up a cult following but nothing more, but this album will, in time, develop more and more fans. Brilliant lyrically, melodically and conceptually (not to mention it’s damn fun), ‘The Body The Blood The Machine’ is almost mature, almost juvenile but always a really enjoyable and addictive record.
Listen to this: in America (hintedy hint hint)
Key track: A Pillar of Salt