Album Review: Thrice – Palms

Photo Credit: Dan Monick

Thrice are back with new music – and you’ll wanna hear it. 

Orange County-based four-piece Thrice have released their latest effort via Epitaph this week. Co-produced by the band and Eric Palmquist and mixed by John Congleton, Palms encompasses everything from viscerally charged post-hardcore to piano-driven balladry.

Near the end of last summer and a national tour, singer Dustin Kensrue awoke in the middle of the night to a mental image of an open hand. This visual became the foundation for the album.

“I got up and started listing off all the things an open palm represented, especially as opposed to the idea of a closed hand or a fist,” says Kensrue. “That became the basis of the record: that feeling of being open, whether it’s open to mystery or to receive things or to give. The album came from a place of trying to combat the hate and bigotry we’re seeing in the world right now, but attempting to do that in a way that’s nondivisive.”

To create that sound, Thrice enlisted producer Eric Palmquist for the recording of the percussion and vocal songs, and the band self-produced all the guitar parts on the record. “When we track our own stuff we tend to be far less neurotic about getting every note perfect,” says Kensrue. “It’s more about getting the right emotion out of the performance, so that it connects on a deeper level.”

Palms opens with the urgent synths of Only Us. The song’s chorus has something tribal to it, melodically as well as lyrically. As you step into first single The Grey, it becomes clear why it was chosen as the first release. It encompasses what Palms is all about. Tinged with punk and a killer bassline it is one of the best tracks on the album.

The Dark features a very special element – vocals submitted by fans for the last chorus. The audio was mixed into the song and the clips were used in the video for The Dark. Over 1000 submissions were received.

The piano-backed rock ballad Everything Belongs is nothing short of beautiful and is the well-composed slow song every good rock album needs. Thrice keep the pace on the slower side with My Soul as well. It’s a few notches softer still than Everything Belongs, and  Kenrue’s smooth vocals shine through here.

A Branch In The River then takes a trip down memory lane and reminds largely of the band’s post hardcore beginnings. Hold Up A Light keeps the heavy guitars flowing and has quite the anthemic melody to it.

Penultimate track Blood On Blood is a magnificent experiment with stripped back instrumentation (a few bits of drum and electric guitar) and mostly focuses its efforts on the vocals and lyrics.

It leads perfectly into final song Beyond The Pines. It’s a huge ballad to finish off a stellar record, once again showcasing Kenrue’s captivating vocal abilities and the band’s undeniable songwriting skills.

Over the past twenty years Thrice have pushed the boundaries more than once and constantly expanded and experimented with their sound, as they did on Palms, and the result is pure listening pleasure.