The logical story of the new Thermals album would be: The band have “grown up”, shifted their focus from themes like death and religion to love, and adapted their sound to this new direction by slowing their breathless punk rock down a couple of knots. And ‘Personal Life’, their fifth LP, does sound calmer  – the only problem is that there isn’t much in the way of emotional depth or grittiness. ‘I’m Gonna Change Your Life’ and ‘I Don’t Believe You’ are, maybe apart from ‘Power Lies’, the only concessions to the band’s older, crunchy and noisy sound. The rest of the record strolls around with a shrug – ‘Alone, A Fool’ is especially inconsequential – and it is left to Harris’ still captivating vocals to hold the listener’s attention. Have the band matured or just lost their magic touch? ‘Personal Life’ points to the latter.

By Matthias Scherer

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