Thursday / Envy - Split
Record Label: Temporary Residence
Release Date: November 4, 2008
It was a little surprising at first to hear that Temporary Residence would be releasing a split album featuring Thursday and Envy. On second thought, though, A City by the Light Divided did have the ambient instrumental, "Arc-Lamps, Signal Flares, a Shower of White (The Light)" leading up to "Running From the Rain," which answered the question of what it would sound like if Explosions in the Sky picked up Geoff Rickly as a lead singer (in case anyone happened to be curious). So I guess Thursday's music being released on a post-rock heavy label isn't all that much of a stretch. Plus, who am I to second guess who's putting this out? This is new music from Thursday! Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Envy's pretty cool, too.
But back on Thursday for a moment. Would their contribution to this split be vintage Thursday or a deeper excursion into post-rock experimentalism? As it turns out, it's a little of both. The fears of anyone who thought the band would completely jump into the ether on this release are quickly assuaged from the outset of "As He Climbed the Dark Mountain," which find them still at their atmospheric post-hardcore best. The electronic-drenched instrumental, "In Silence," is a quick change of pace, sounding very much like the Album Leaf, circa One Day I'll Be on Time. It's actually not bad at all, just a bit of a disappointment, at least if you were looking forward to Thursday sounding like Thursday. They bounce right back, though, with "An Absurd and Unrealistic Dream of Peace," which features a particularly strong vocal performance from Rickly as he delivers his dark visions of war over the band's angular soft-loud dynamic. Frankly, it's one of the strongest songs they've ever recorded. It makes way for "Appeared and Was Gone," which is just a different mix of "In Silence." While it's also enjoyable, it does make for an anti-climatic close to Thursday's half of the split. While they have frequently incorporated experimental elements into their music, their songs have retained that unique character that has made it impossible to mistake them for other bands, but the instrumental tracks here do not exude that same sense of identity. Still, it's a small complaint, because they're still very good and the songs that are quintessential Thursday are simply terrific. It's hard not to be excited at the thought of their upcoming Epitaph release after hearing this.
The Envy side starts out with "An Umbrella Fallen Into Fiction," a song that's pretty much representative of their style, with four-and-a-half minutes of shimmering guitars and spoken-word vocals building up to two minutes of aggression from vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa and company. Then, they pull a surprise of their own with "Isolation of a Light Source," a sub-four-minute song that comes out of the gate at full speed. Even at their heaviest moments on these songs, though, Envy displays a beauty in their guitar work that's simply unmatched, marking a stark contrast with Fukugawa's throat-shredding screams. They save the real gem for last with "Pure Birth and Loneliness," which includes rare melodic vocals in addition to their usual spoken-word and screaming. It starts out subdued, with a moodiness similar to Sunny Day Real Estate, before busting out into a song too huge to fit into any arena. If there's any downside to the Envy portion of the split, it's that there's nothing quite as stunningly beautiful as "Scene" from Insomniac Doze, but that's setting the bar awfully high. The sheer power of the closing track is more than enough to make up for it, anyway.
With Thursday proving they still have plenty of game and Envy providing their typical epic post-rock flourishes, what seemed like an odd pairing at first turned out to be the recipe for quite an impressive album. While I've expressed a bit of negativity, this album is perhaps the biggest surprise of the year and certainly one of the best overall.
I agree with you, except maybe the album should be closer to 75% or so; the instrumentals are a let-down after the high hopes Arc Lamps... and Running from the Rain gave me. But I'm still REALLY looking forward to this Epitaph release, especially if they can TRULY turn on the post-rock atmospherics into something more identifiable and ascendant.
I stumbled across this at a store in Munich while backpacking across Europe, somehow it made it safely back to Canada having carried it for two weeks on trains, planes and subway cars...totally worth the effort, I've really started appreciating post-rock the last year or two and I think Thursday did an admirable job indulging in the genre, even if as you said they fail to really put their stamp on it...nonetheless, a must-have for Thursday fans
This album is pretty sick. I had not heard of envy until i found a article about this split coming out.. they are pretty sick! i love Jap-rock(and i wont lie, pop too.. but kpop is more fun..) and i was surprised i hadnt heard of them! if your a fan check out RIZE->pinkspider.
And of course, thursday delivers their usual greatness. Rickley is outstanding, and never dissapoints.