The Thermals – “Desperate Ground”




Once upon a time, years ago, I was listening to music in my room when my SIL’s friend came in to say hi.  After handing me a Heineken he focused his ears wrinkled his nose, and asked “are you listening to pop punk?”.  I glared at him over the lip of my beer and growled “no, I’m listening to the Thermals”.  That was a hell of a long time ago – eight years gone or so – and that album was The Body, The Blood, The Machine, a tour-de-force of firebrand conceptual punk.  As it turns out, it was also the band’s highwater mark; everything that came after got increasingly more muddled.  Desperate Ground does not reverse this trend, rather it neatly encapsulates it.  The album has one great track (the opener, “Born To Kill”) and the rest blend into each other with surface-level politics and same old-same old power chords that fall over each other in an effort to get to the end.  After the last chord rings out you’ll be hard-pressed to separate it from any other three-chord radio-punk band you’ve heard in the last decade.  I guess all heroes must fall eventually.

Final Mark:  C