To the causal listener, Thursday is no more than a decent, if not great, band whose music reflects said listener’s fragile but otherwise uninteresting emotional state that was most likely being weaned by the likes of Staind as far back as 2000. To the less casual listener, however, to listen to Thursday is to listen to a summation of a brief but complex history that started in basements and somehow ended up in Madison Square Garden and various other epicenters. Thursday, unlike their so-labeled peers, have not succumbed to amnesia in regards to their roots, and as such stand out from them as a band that sticks to the punk ethic of doing what they want. Prime evidence is the fact that they put out a split 180 gram 12-inch with a band that one would not immediately associate with them.
The reasoning behind the split is explained as mere appreciation of each other’s art, which is a fine enough explanation, but one can’t help that there are motives that go far beyond simple mutual inclusiveness. One gets the sense that a fulfilling listening experience is one that is spent contrasting, comparing and generally contemplating two positively distinct worlds that have collided in a very non-compulsory manner. Thursday is recognizable enough as the leading band to take Quicksand’s brooding post-hardcore to the next logical extreme, Envy, it seems, is a band from Japan with a “face-melting” aesthetic.
It is one thing to consider Thursday a punk band as far as ethics go, but it is an entirely different thing to label them as such when considering their art. In the three songs (the fourth is a remix of the second track by Mercury Rev’s Anthony Molina) that introduce the disc, Thursday is still enamored with clawing its way to heights largely unseen by people who aren’t Ian Curtis, or even Siouxsie Sioux. For this disc, Thursday, I can only deduce, gave listeners four options for which they are to choose one that fully encapsulates the band’s habit of writing three to five minute mini-epics packed with cavernous post-punk guitars, key work composed seemingly in a fit of morose trembling and their potent version of Jacobean drama, rendered by Geoff Rickly’s soaring/screaming vocals — getting less tone deaf with every release admittedly — and penchant for wordy lyrics that lay thickly all the hopelessness and humorlessness one who gets off on that kind of thing could ever ask for.
This is not to say, however, that their contribution is a train wreck of sorts. While they clearly have a formula that they tweak softly over long periods, they can still compose and arrange with care and imagination. The instrumental piece “In Silence” is decidedly gloomy in style but is given great substance with their balance of angelic melody and wintery atmosphere. They do the same with their more aggressive pieces in which the melody comes up against an anger that, while not profound, is still a stark contrast for more fluid notes to work against. Rickly as a singer and lyricist was once a victim of emo-basher parody, for which he only had himself to blame. But since more terrible bands and frontmen and women have come to take that burden away, it can be seen that even his most melodramatic moments contain the ambitions of a meticulous stylist: “And there were bombers riding shotgun in the sky/ They all turned into light and spread like stars/ Across the black night.”
Envy does not have the cherished name that Thursday has. Oddly enough the only other way in which I know them is that they participated in another split before this one with Jesu, and seem to have also earned the appreciation of Mogwai. For this one they make up the final three tracks. While they have the same melodic preoccupations of Thursday, they are a great deal louder and prefer guttural screams almost entirely with occasional digressions of spoken word. Of course me being as unlearned as I am cannot make out the lyrics written and yelled in Japanese. “An Umbrella Fallen into Fiction” is a six and a half minute long piece that starts with sparse but glossier post-rock before dismantling more than halfway into cathartic screams and an orchestral wall of sound. Though these songs don’t really give me the full context of their music, from what I hear, I appear to have underestimated the influence of ancient bands like You and I and Jerome’s Dream on today’s less well-known hardcore acts, in that I’ve not estimated them at all, in my haste to grow up I kind of forgot they existed.
Hearing these two back to back, Thursday and Envy have much to share with each other. Though in the so-called real world of proper music, Thursday will still receive heaps of accolades while Envy shall be their eternal supporting band. Mainstream Thursday fans, more often than not, will nod politely and constantly repeat the word “interesting,” the standard-bearer of insulting non-insults, not so much because they’re turned off by foreign bands—in fact it’s somewhat of a novelty among less authentic hipsters—but because the Orchid-era sound of “screamo” is somehow too extreme. Of course mainstream Thursday fans don’t buy vinyl, I don’t think they buy CDs anymore. This collaboration is suitable for those who are compelled to believe that writing emotional music that straddles the line between the sweet and the demonic—which both bands do but to varying degrees—is not for the sake of milking a trend, but because that is their idea of artistic honesty and power. Most bands with popularity more massive than Thursday will try to convey this with great futility, as Thursday, with Envy in tow, is the only band of this stripe with just enough ideas to make the argument that emo in its current form is not altogether atrocious.
Thursday – Full Collapse
Envy – Insomniac Daze
Thrice – Vheissu