Label: Kill Rock Stars Release date: 07/09/10 Link: Official Site Buy/Stream: Amazon/Spotify The Thermals can be accused of making the same album since Fuckin’ A. It’s not their fault that the three-person indie rock/punk style they employ is hard to break free from, especially since they’ve managed to make each album a better refinement of their cleanly forceful sound. And now with their latest LP, Personal Life, out on regular home label Kill Rock Stars, the band seems to be revived anew in some way that is impossible to place. First off, keep in mind that this is the first non-concept album the band has made in a while. The Body, The Blood, The Machine was an impressive narrative for the band, a great album, and left an impression as one of the better albums of that year. Similarly, Now We Can See was fashioned out of songs that were made before the band fictitiously died. Quite lofty motifs there, especially given a vaguely religious probing disc followed by one questioning the band’s lifespan. Enter Personal Life, an album that seems to draw inspiration only from the title, as most songs seem to be about self-deconstruction. The first three song titles and lyrics seem to relate to one another; ‘I’m Gonna Change Your Life,’ ‘I Don’t Believe You,’ ‘Never Listen To Me’ forms a coherent thought of thesis, antithesis, second antithesis before dropping into ‘Not Like Any Other Feeling,’ a song with a chorus of “You only exist to be replaced.” Each moment here is one confirming the validity of self-questions, or maybe just a new topic for Hutch to explore. Whatever it is, it rollicks along, often pausing only at song breaks and building momentum in the continually simple yet effective songwriting. As mentioned before, nothing has changed for the band sound wise, but the lyrics are of a new breed. Yes, it’s what is expected again but the topic is so far from the previous efforts in their own way that it makes everything seem newer, even in the face of upbeat death songs like ‘Power Lies.’ I can imagine that the lack of change in the band’s approach to songwriting and overall production will bother some and force it to get reviews less than glowing. It’s a shame, though, since it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed listening to a new KRS release this much from a non-Deerhoof band. Honestly, by this point, if a person doesn’t expect this from The Thermals, maybe it’s too late, for this is a serious achievement on a different level for the ever enjoyable trio. Photobucket