As one of the most critically and publicly beloved bands of the early ‘00s emo movement, they could have kept cranking out the noise forever and been given a pass (see 2009’s “Common Existence,” which was met with no praise or criticism). But they decided to work themselves, and “No Devolución” is the result.
“No Devolución” tells you a lot about itself simply from the title. It’s en español, but its translation (“No Returns”) falls right in line with Thursday’s grim, gritty lyrics. This album is Thursday trying to do exactly what they do theoretically, but in a different medium.
It’s also got a double entendre going on, aping Devo a bit. But by appending the “No,” they’re out to prove that it’s not going soft. They’ve chosen to go where they’ve gone, and that’s what makes this disc as strong as it is.
Both those points come to fruition in the eight-minute (!) highlight track “Stay True.” Beginning as a forlorn solo guitar elegy, the song slowly builds to a full roar, with lead singer Geoff Rickly hollering out the title for all he’s worth. But even that isn’t the apex, as it keeps building. It’s a pretty incredible rock track, and it proves that Thursday still has vital things to say musically.
No other song reaches the heights of “Stay True,” but no other one really tries to. If you nail the hardest move in your routine early on (“Stay True” is track two), you’ve pretty much got the confidence to pull off the rest or goodwill from the judges to gloss over minor errors.
The rest of the record shows a tempered Thursday: less aggression, more mood. It’s unusual to hear that from the group (check all that Muse piano on “Sparks Against the Sun”), but it’s not bad, either. “Past and Future Ruins” is a great example, with a toy piano juxtaposed against distorted screaming and thrashy guitars. “A Gun in the First Act” excellently mixes an accordion and rapid-fire tom fills. There’s a sentence I’ve never written before.
There are a few face-plants throughout (the underpowered “Millimeter,” the too-maudlin “A Darker Forest”), but Thursday’s still learning how to work this type of moodiness throughout a long-player. “No Devolución” is not perfect, but it’s an impressive first stab at more than the thoughtful scream ’n’ pound for which they’re known. —Stephen Carradini
UPDATE: It has come to my attention that the review copy was heard out of sequence, due to a computer error.
This was actually good for Thursday, as the correct order places highlight “Stay True” last. In listening to its intended state, I found myself losing interest in all of the back-end tracks that were suddenly front-end tracks. Without an explosion to kick off the set (and “Fast to the End” is nice, but not the blast they need), it drags by the middle. “A Gun in the First Act” is still in almost the same place, oddly, and it does serve as a pick-me-up toward the end. And “Stay True” stayed true.
So buy the album, re-order it with “Turnpike Divides” first, “Stay True” second and “A Darker Forest” last, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.