Everybody’s talking, but Thank prefer screaming. The Leeds noise rock band leapt right past the sprechgesang of today’s conversational UK post-punk in favor of a total nervous breakdown on their 2019 EP, Please. On tracks like “Two Hour Lunch,” the group juxtaposed piercing electronic bleeps against thrumming bass and rhythms to soundtrack a fistfight, all the while vocalist Freddy Vinehill-Cliffe screams his way through matters both cliché (“You gotta spend money to make money, buddy!“) and seemingly mundane (“I’m kind of happy“). On paper it seems benign or even banal, but you never really notice how absurd and damaging the central tenets of modern capitalism sound until someone barks them at you at max volume.
That wasn’t even the half of it. On their debut album Thoughtless Cruelty, Thank don’t have a mute button or an off switch, but they do occasionally find a first gear. They only use it when absolutely necessary, however, and the band’s caustic and corrosive sound has grown into a more eclectic delivery system for both rancor and dadaism. On first single “Good Boy,” Vinehill-Cliffe mocks back-patting progressive hypocrites (“I feel like such a good boy!“) over an electronic buzz akin to The Body gone power-pop, while on “Punching Bag,” he takes masochism to an almost uncomfortable level (“I will be your fucking punching bag, then write down how I feel, so all your fucking friends can have a fucking laugh“) while the group tears through one of the simultaneously most tense and explosive punk rippers in their quiver.
Understatement isn’t Thank’s strong suit, but even it were, Thoughtless Cruelty wouldn’t be half as fun as it is. It’s not necessarily good clean fun—insults are thrown, punches taken, bruises nursed—but Thank carve out a groove nastier and more cathartic than most. “Paris Syndrome” is Thank at their most accessible—as accessible as a 5/4 noise rock churn can be, driven by a buzzing, sleazy bassline and chugging power chords. The outstanding “Dread” is just slightly catchier, as much a showcase for Vinehill-Cliffe’s sense of humor (“There’s never been a good band from London,” he deadpans, followed by “There’s never been a good band from Leeds“) as it is for the band’s sax-squawking no wave punk-funk.
The cumulative result of Thank’s constantly shifting spin-cycle and Vinehill-Cliffe’s serrated social commentary with endless punchlines is a record that’s jarring on listen one and what feels like a necessary tool for surviving this deeply stupid age we live in by listen two. Half of Thank’s songs feel like Hulk hands punching upward and the other half are akin to smashing dinner plates out of sheer frustration—or maybe just because smashing dinner plates just sounds really fun. It’s less the consistent impact than the band’s creativity in arriving there that makes Thoughtless Cruelty such a thrilling listening experience.
Label: Exploding in Sound
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.