Thrice - The Alchemy Index Volume 3
On their third EP from the Index, Air holds Thrice's most accurate and consistent depiction of any of the four elements, combining instrumental and vocal alterations to capture both the whimsical and violent aspects of air. The lighter aspects of air are prominent throughout the album; there is the constant emphasis of air in the songwriting, in the droning guitar reverb, and even in Kensrue's vocals-which often gently flow with whatever instruments and sounds Thrice conjures up, whether it is a chorus or a simple set of wind chimes.
On the album opener, "Broken Lungs," Thrice immediately utilize guitar reverberations to create a quiet, but salient, echo in the background, which builds an atmospheric and airy feeling throughout the song. On "Broken Lungs" Kensrue's voice begins low and somber, avoiding any alteration in his vocal delivery-letting his voice seep into the melody, which flows like a gentle breeze. The chorus then presents a more dominant building of wind-an ominous growth of sound and air, foreboding the maelstrom ahead. Suddenly, a climatic outburst booms, presenting a resounding, violent whirlwind, as Kensrue screams for truth and justice, "I don't want any part of this I want to be strong enough, to not let my terror turn to hate." This juxtaposition of dynamics is extremely effective, presenting the calm before the storm, and then the storm itself: the dual elements of air-the dichotomy of peace and violence.
From the album's inception, there is a noticeably stark difference in Thrice's lyrical approach. While the majority of lead singer Dustin Kensrue's lyrical inspiration came from the Bible in Vhiessu, Kensrue's writing uses various sources on Air: there is Greek mythology in "Daedalus," the September 11th attacks in "Broken Lungs," and the film The Boy Who Could Fly in "A Song for Milly Michaelson." These topics reveal an outer meaning to each individual song, belying the deeper metaphorical, and often political, message that binds the songs together under the thematic scope of the element air.
Thrice's political message manifests on "The Sky Is Falling," where Kensrue suggests the imminent destruction of the world, using the sky's falling as a metaphor for a dropping nuclear device. He sings, "From such a juggernaut of weight / We all dance a jingo cabaret," as claps sardonically play along to the melody-to the dance of the obstinate. Here, Kensrue's lyricism is effective, though it proves inconsistent; on "Broken Lungs," for instance, his foray into the language of antiquity is almost embarrassing, where he awkwardly asks: "Are we fools and cowards all?" However, there is too much occurring on Air to focus on Kensrue's lyrical stumbles. The climatic "Daedalus," for instance, is the apex of the album, as Kensrue passionately exclaims, "Oh God! Why is this happening to me?" This may also be the highest point in Kensrue's career, as he establishes himself as a vocalist that can evoke passion without screams-that he can remain focused on evoking the sounds of air without taking from the music. His voice directs Air: from his most somber and apologetic whispers on the intimate "A Song For Milly Michaelson," to the electronic-based closer, "Silver Wings," Kensrue never strays from the theme of the album without borrowing from the energy of the music, which is where Fire sometimes faltered.
This is the best album Thrice presented us with from the Alchemy Index, and is another great edition to their already impressive catalogue. Don't miss out on this one, and check out these guys live, too; they're incredible.
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