When: Thu., May 16, 9 p.m. 2013
The Thermals have been going for more than a decade now, and throughout that time they’ve played their fiery, mature, and endearingly cheerful pop punk with exceptional consistency. The Portland trio had their style down to a science long before their new sixth album, Desperate Ground (Saddle Creek); at this point they sound like they’re cruising Route 66 at just above the speed limit in a banged-up but well-maintained jalopy. The Thermals went with a relatively clean production style for their previous album, 2010’s Personal Life, but Desperate Ground is their dirtiest since their debut—it might as well have been recorded in that banged-up jalopy. Front man Hutch Harris plays big, rugged guitar riffs that cut less like razors and more like chain saws, and his adenoidal screams sound like he’s using a megaphone. This isn’t the most memorable Thermals album—my pick is still 2006’s The Body, the Blood, the Machine, which Sub Pop reissued on vinyl earlier this year—but a few of its tracks (“You Will Be Free,” “Our Love Survives”) evoke the irresistible energy of the band’s live sets. Their indestructible, uplifting spirit ought to carry them through many recordings to come. —Leor Galil Bare Mutants and Moon King open.