Thrice - The Alchemy Index Volume 2: Water
Record Label: Vagrant
Release Date: October 16, 2007
“I am drowning in a digital sea/I am slipping beneath the sound” Dustin Kensrue exclaims during the chorus of the first track on the album. This is exactly the kind of thematic imagery you can expect from The Alchemy Index Volume 2: Water. When listening to it, you can’t help but want to close your eyes and imagine vivid images of the ocean and all the life contained within it. This six-song EP sees Thrice venturing into (sorta) unknown territories and pushing their creativity further than ever before.
Kensrue’s vocals simmer more quietly than they ever have before during the verses of “Open Water”, before exploding into one of the biggest choruses the band has ever recorded.“I’m starting to believe the ocean’s much like you/because it gives and it takes away.” This song captures the epic feel that Thrice were presumably trying to achieve with The Alchemy Index. It’s easily the strongest song on the EP, and one of the best to be found throughout the entire Alchemy Index collection, and arguably one of the band’s best songs ever.
The sound found on this EP is one that Thrice flirted with throughout Vheissu but didn’t ever truly commit to. Songs like “Atlantic”, “Between The End and Where We Lie” and the opening of “For Miles” are the closest that the band ever got to creating the calm, soothing sound that’s found on the Water EP. This is perhaps the reason why so many fans have found this particular EP to be so thoroughly alienating. In the past, the band would at most have had one verse per song dedicated to Kensrue singing over a piano before the chorus and following verses would retreat back into familiar territory closer to the kind of sound found on The Artist In The Ambulance. But here, with The Alchemy Index Volume 2: Water, Thrice have dedicated themselves 100% to creating soft, calming music that makes you feel emotions that their previous records couldn’t.
“Lost Continent” is tragic. You can’t help but feel sad listening to it, mainly because of the watery-themed lyrical content with morbid lines such as “we’ll soon be swallowed by the sea.” It’s this kind of imagery with which the listener is constantly presented with as the band not only stick to the water concept musically but also lyrically. It’s Thrice’s devotion and willingness to stick to the concept that allows this record to be as well executed as it is. Other bands that have put out concept albums following a similar idea have not been as devoted to their concepts, as excellent as they were, for example- the (M)orning, (A)fternoon and (E)vening EPs by Mae released in 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively. But this is seemingly something that Thrice have no problem with as there isn’t a single song on the Water EP that feels like it would fit better elsewhere on one of the other 3 EPs that are a part of The Alchemy Index project.
“The Whaler” is probably the best in this respect. It totally captures the concept of water thanks to the keyboards played beneath the sound of Kensrue’s, as always, excellent vocal delivery. The track concludes with some of the most soothing vocals Kensrue has ever recorded. “Night Diving” is the most boring track to be found here. It’s an instrumental stuck in the middle of the album which you won’t remember once you finish listening to the EP. “Kings Upon The Main” is written in sonnet form, as are all the concluding tracks to each EP, and is probably the weakest track, other than “Night Diving”. The song kinda drags and drags and it’s easy to just completely fade out when listening. It’s only the final two lines that save the song from being almost completely forgettable.
The Alchemy Index Volume 2: Water is an excellent release from American rockers Thrice, and it’s a shame that they never composed an entire album with a similar sound. “Open Water”, “Digital Sea”, “Lost Continent” and “The Whaler” are worth the price of admission alone. And quite frankly, this is the most interesting music the band has released to date.