The Thermals lose footing on ‘Desperate Ground’

Album review: The Thermals’ ‘Desperate Ground’

The Thermals – Desperate Ground
Saddle Creek
★★ (out of 5 stars)

The Thermals are one of those bands who are just maniacs to see live, and typically their albums are full of hoot signals to alert you to that crazed frenzy that they create so dependably. But on Desperate Ground, something’s lost, because opening track “Born to Kill” doesn’t feel immediate, let alone inspire fervor for the following tracks, instead lulling us with the predictable pop-punk cadence the band has been rocking for 10 years now. Fans of 2006’s The Body, the Blood, the Machine might bob their heads a bit to “Where I Stand,” which is the only track able to hold its ground (and indeed, I was desperate for it). The Thermals work best when their passionate stands are solidly convincing, so the middling song subjects – life-ending sunsets, never-ending love, ever-present anti-war stances – seem to fail to get even the band going, although they may very well disprove that live this week.

The Thermals perform 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9 at the Social with Beach Day and Good Graeff, $12-$14.