‘Galore’ Rocks, Then Rolls Downhill
John Darr | Tuesday, March 18, 2014
That seems to be exactly the message Thumpers has in store with their debut “Galore.” Most art is usually designed to reveal some sort of truth or display an original idea; it finds the treasures and explores the trenches of the ocean of life. “Galore,” however, sails out into the middle of the ocean and just yells “This is a great ocean!” until you believe it. There is no deep or new message in Thumpers’ music. It simply wants to get you jumping.
Now, that can sound like a description of pop music in general. But this sentiment is unusually strong in Thumpers’ music, especially for what is essentially an indie rock record. Most indie rock is tempered by some sort of weightier message or musical restraint. But Thumpers brings its stock guitars and heavy drums to the table with no sense of subtlety. The drums are constantly turned up to 11, evoking the band’s name with driving, relentless beats throughout the record.
However, they’re still very much acoustic — not hip-hop 808’s blaring from a speaker, but your brother going ape on the old set in the garage. Similarly, the guitars and synths in the record are given reverb that gives them a spacious, acoustic feel throughout the record, even when they’re eardrum-threatening. In this way, Thumpers preserve a rock feel while turning up volume loud enough to compete with electro-pop competitors.
While Thumpers’ sound is fresh and exciting, the accompanying songwriting is somewhat behind. “Galore” does succeed immensely when it plays to its strengths. The first half of the record, from “Marvel” to “Come on Strong,” is unabashed ear candy complete with accessible song structures and unforgettable hooks. “Sound of Screams” is an especially notable highlight and an early candidate for song of the year, completely with glitchy samples, punching drums and an ecstatic, yet smooth, chorus.
The latter half attempts to turn down the tempo and energy but ends up losing much of what makes Thumpers appealing. “Now We Are Sixteen” is a pretty, but rather unremarkable little ballad, and “The Wilder Wise” barrels by hook-free, near-epic and very forgettable. Concluding songs “Running Rope” and “Together Now” return to brightness, but the hooks and choruses are simply less compelling. It’s as if Thumpers perfected a sound and ended their record with its B-sides.
Thumpers have hit on a fresh sound in a crowded indie-pop scene, and on “Galore,” they give us several songs that make the most of it. However, the record as a whole is front-loaded, with the back end boasting rather forgettable material. It will definitely be exciting to see Thumpers develop as a band. It’s clear they have the potential to be a big name but they’re yet to make an album that demands it.