An important piece of information to put in context my comments below, Thrice is absolutely in my Top 10 all-time favorite bands.
Thrice's strongest points, and indeed what makes them, in my opinion, one of the ten best bands currently making music:
- Heaviness with melody
- Speed with melody
- Dynamics within songs
- Creativity within songs
- Non-standard song structures, vocal melodies, and instrumentation
- Varying styles across an album
With that in mind, Major/Minor falls short in the Thrice discography. No doubt, the record is a solid addition to the band's incredible catalog; it's missing so much of what makes Thrice a "top 10 current band", though, and as such it is no way near the top of their discography which I would rank as follows:
1) The Artist in the Ambulance
4) The Illusion of Safety
5) The Alchemy Index
It's disappointing to see the band's latest output slip so far down on the list; not since the bloated The Alchemy Index has a Thrice album failed to make such an impression on me. Let's examine the band's strongest points, in order as they are listed above:
Lyrically, Dustin is on top of his game. There's not much to say here without opening a door that would take paragraphs to close.
Thrice is noticeably softer on this album. Dustin's scream seems to have all-but-vanished. There are no super-heavy moments, laced with or without melody.
MM is slow.
In comparing MM to the band's discography, it is lacking the beautiful dynamics that make Thrice the standout band they are. This somewhat mixes the two above points: there is nothing extremely heavy to balance out the extremely soft; there is nothing fast to balance the slow.
Thrice often brings a lot of creative elements to their songs: On "Red Sky", the key change; on "Music Box", Teppei's music box; on "Earth Will Shake", the spiritual chaingang stomps; the list goes on and on. Nothing on MM falls into this exclusive collection.
Expanding on the above (and relating to the non-standard structures/melodies/instruments), nothing on MM stands out amongst Thrice's best works. Nothing in particular is too strange.
Almost in conclusion, MM doesn't offer much in variety across the album. Every one of Thrice's best albums are a mixed bag of treats; on Vheissue, for example, the album hits hard with tracks like "Hold Fast Hope" alongside slow cuts like "Atlantic". The differences between songs are at their lowest in Thrice's catalog.
Strictly examining the sheer quality of Thrice's discography, it's impossible to put (the very good) MM anywhere higher than 6th best. To put MM above TAITA, V, B, TAI, or TIOS is insulting to those albums.
I would love to debate this with anyone looking to make intelligent points regarding my comments above. Please include your own personal ranking of the albums if you do respond, and please indicate your thoughts on Thrice in general (favorite, love em, like em, hate em, whatever) for frame of reference.
Given your criteria, why do you rank Beggars 3rd?
For me, its:
4. The Alchemy Index
5. Illusion of Safety
6. Artist in the Ambulance
I love the maturity of everything post-TAITA, although I'd still rate IOS/TAITA above any album from any other artist. To me, Thrice can do know wrong, and I think that's a testament to their honesty, integrity, and dedication to creating art, not radio hits.
Glad to see some one open to civil debate. It's good that you recognize that your criteria for what makes Thrice amazing are in fact your opinions, not that I disagree with any of them necesarilly, but some are subjective as to whether or not they equate quality. Also, I'd like to pose the question, why could a band not move on from things they have done that were good and excel at different criteria? IMO, this is the case for Major/Minor and I really think if you listened to it objectively and didn't expect or grade them any of the previous criteria you'd hear alot of those things. For example, a band certainly does not have to have a heavy sound to be good. I think that should be self-evident.
And on several points, I really have to just completely disagree with you, but I'll try to support those as best I can.
1. There are massive dynamic contrasts on this album. The second verse of Blur is a huge shift from the chorus. Really, the majority of the songs have at least one, often multiple, total shifts of volume, style, texture, etc. Emphasis on texture.
2. I really don't know how you can say there's nothing fast to balance the slow. I don't even feel like the album is primarily slow. You should take a met out and check some of the tracks.
3. As far as creativity, the key change on Red Sky is really just a mode change from minor to major, a technique which is used multiple times on this album, along with a prevalance of mode mixture, such as the raised third at the end of each phrase in the verse on Treading Paper. I could go on and on about the subtle creative technical gestures on this album but I think that would be pointless. I feel as though the most creative element is the general crreativity of sound. Many tracks on this album explore styles that no one has ever really done before, such as Cataracts.
4. As far as strangeness goes, there's not a ton, no. But this was never intended to be an experimental album. They've already done that with the Alchemy Index. Is it really fair to say that an album is inferior if it's not experimental?
5. For variety, I don't really know how to say this other than I think that's just not true. I think this is second in variety only to Vheissu (maybe close to tied with Beggars) and that's my favorite album of all time. Each EP of the Alchemy Index stuck very close to the same style. And everything before Vheissu has very, very little variety. But again, unless your songs sound recycled or they all run together, why is that even a bad thing?
Well I knew it'd get a great review, as it's Thrice, and not well, a typically shitty band, but then most bands get great reviews here. I found it incredibly boring, increeeeeeedibly boring. Why they settled on this sound and not their original one we'll never know/consistently debate, but Jesus Christ, did they have to take all the fun out of their music?