Label: Vagrant Release date: 15/09/09 (Digital Release out now!) Website: Thrice's Official Site Buy: Amazon It took me a while to come round to Thrice, but a while ago I finally stopped writing them off in the same breath as Taking Back Sunday and friends, and began to appreciate them as they deserve to be. See, Thrice have not simply rehashed their first decent album three times with increasingly disastrous effects. Thrice have not lost their few half-decent songwriters and musicians. Thrice have continually pushed themselves to improve, to try something new, and to hell with what their fans think. In my eyes, Thrice are worthy of the same kind of praise as 405 favourite Brand New, another band who have consistently refined and reinvented themselves. From the screamy post-hardcore-pop of their early releases, perfected on 2003s The Artist In The Ambulance, to the equal parts heavy and haunting Vheissu, and through to The Alchemy Index, released over 2007 and 2008, which comprised of four themed EPs, each showing the band’s mastery of four different genres (Hardcore, Electronicy-shoegazey stuff, epic melodic indie rock and acoustic folk), it’s easy to see how Thrice have changed and grown throughout their career. With Beggars, they throw everything that’s gone before in to the mix and see what comes out. What does come out is incredible – the most mature and refined sounding album of Thrice’s career. Gone is the youthful anger of The Artist In The Ambulance, and in its place is the sound of a band who have control over their emotions and, as a result, can channel them in to something more than teenage angst. Thrice have carefully balanced raw aggression and power with beautiful melodies and experimentation since Vheissu, and on Beggars, the balance continues to tip towards the latter, with less of the metal influence they have shown before, and a more melodic indie rock based sound, similar to that found on the Air section of The Alchemy Index. That’s not to say the album is tame – there are plenty of chugging riffs and crushingly heavy moments, but they are contrasted and counterbalanced by examples of the band spreading their wings a little. Their solid post-hardcore base is infused with so many strengthening influences. Some songs, such as ‘Circles’, take on post-rock tendencies thanks to guitars that spiral off in to the distance, and a slower, more patient vibe that breaks up the album’s usually energetic pace. The second half of ‘Talking Through Glass / We Move Like Swing Sets’ too, is more introspective, with a lo-fi acoustic rumble backed by the band singing together. ‘Doublespeak’ features an incredibly weighty piano line that bounces and drives the song forward with barely a pause, whilst ‘The Great Exchange’ combines a jittery drum beat with lazily meandering guitars. Thrice have also always been a more intelligent band than people give them credit for. Singer Dustin Kensrue’s lyrics are usually of interest, informed by a wealth of literary and biblical sources, and the talent of each member is always impressive, but on Beggars, they are perhaps better than ever. Their ability to mix a wide range of influences in to an album that is equal parts fun, thoughtful and powerful, that builds so much on their previous work but still retains a sound that is definably Thrice and nothing else, marks them out as a band deserving of your attention. Beggars is full of surprises and fantastic moments, both beautiful and punishing. I can’t wait to see where they go next. Rating: 9/10