Thrice – ‘Palms’

By Tom Walsh

Have you ever taken a moment to look at the palm of your hand? Have you ever studied the cracks, the grooves, the cuts and the faded scars that form you as an individual? Dustin Kensrue has. The purpose and the stories that a palm can tell transfixed the Thrice frontman to such an extent that it formed the basis for the California band’s tenth studio album.

Kensrue intended for ‘Palms’ to represent a sense of openness, a willingness to accept everything and everyone. In a world of closed hands and fists, where bigotry is encouraged and celebrated, the mere concept of being open with fellow human beings can seem a lost fantasy.

‘Palms’ sees Thrice pick up where they left off in 2016’s politically driven ‘To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere’ as it looks at the increasingly diverse nature of the world we live. While there is an underlying raging anger, ‘Palms’ sets a more healing tone, as the band cross the whole spectrum of their sound from the past 20 years.

Thrice are yearning for a better understanding of the world portrayed in the opener ‘Only Us’. Led in by trembling strings, Kensrue’s signature rasping vocal tones carry with them a sense of foreboding as he talks about a ‘them’ against ‘us’ mentality. It is a bold start to a record that holds up a mirror to the cracks we are seeing in our society.

Lead single ‘The Grey’ thrashes into the frenetic post-hardcore sound that had us falling in love with Thrice during ‘The Artist and the Ambulance’ era of the early-2000s. It is a raw, riff-laden track with Kensrue airing his frustrations at the seeming void we are placed into through a perceived rigged social system.

This underlying mood flows through ‘The Dark’ and culminates in the gloriously intense ‘A Branch in the River’. The pair put you in the mind of Kensrue as he lay awake looking at the crevices of his own palm and wondered how a world that could be open and diverse has become a close minded expanse of walls and fences.

Despite the sense of powerlessness at changing a situation which courses through ‘Palms’, there are tender moments providing hope. The delicate ‘Everything Belongs’ is a subtle piano-led track with a lilting string section where Kensrue speaks of a world where we come together and things click into place.

Thrice bring ‘Palms’ to a close with the heartstring-tugging ‘Beyond The Pines’. This carefully composed track speaks of something better, something we can all dream of and is inspired by 13th century poet Rumi’s ‘The Great Wagon’. The line “out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing/there is a field. I’ll meet you there” succinctly portrays the atmosphere of ‘Palms’ – despite the obstacles, we can make it through the darkness.

Through ‘Palms’ Thrice have delivered another powerful record that offers a light of hope in an otherwise dark world, and all from staring at the contours of their hand.

TOM WALSH

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