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Music Review: Thrice – Beggars

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Thrice is an alternative rock band from Irvine, California. They're known for their hard-hitting, but at times experimental sound and lyrics that reference their faith. Much of their previous work has fallen into the hardcore realm with a heavy sound accompanied by screamed vocals. Beggars, Thrice's sixth studio album, finds Dustin singing, almost exclusively, over a more straight-forward and balanced rock album.

Beggars follows their four EPs that made up The Alchemy Index. After that concept-driven project, the band was relieved to just get back to jamming together and let the tracks come to them rather than having an idea or concept in mind. The result is a more melodic, almost slightly bluesy, cloudy day rock album. Beggars isn't as hard, there's not as much screaming and it's better balanced than previous efforts. It's their first album where I can say that I like, if not love, every song. Previous efforts seemed to feature more extremes of really hard tracks and really soft tracks.

"All the World Is Mad" is the album's upbeat opener. It signifies the album's sound with the same raw, live feel that many of the tracks have. This track and many others feel less produced than songs on previous albums. "Double Speak" is a piano driven track that introduces the almost bluesy feel that permeates the album. It's still hard rock, but there seems to be a new wrinkle to their sound.

"In Exile" could be one of Thrice's best tracks to date. The mid-tempo lone ranger-esque track isn't an in your face, blow the doors off kind scorcher. Instead, it's subtle, has great instrumentation, and Dustin's vocals soars above the track with tangible emotion. "In Exile" speaks of nomads and pilgrims and alludes to the long narrow path of Christians and their journey home. Dustin sings: "No I don't belong here. Or never, call this place my home I'm just passing through." I'm not alone in my admiration for "In Exile" as it was chosen by fans as Thrice's first music video to support Beggars.

The more mellow tracks "Circles" and "Wood and Wire" are atmospheric and well-done. I would not describe them as "sleepy" as the band described some of their previous work. There's also a helping of Thrice's fast, hard, bread and butter of the past on "At the Last" and "Talking Through Glass/We Move Like Swing Sets". As always, it's great to hear Dustin's vocals which are soaked in passion and emotion. His vocals help Thrice standout from many of their peers.

I enjoyed Thrice's 2005 release Vheissu, but could really only latch onto a few tracks. For me, the EPs were a neat concept and right down my alley as a progressive rock fan, but much of the music wasn't as memorable. Beggars is a nice step forward for Thrice. It showcases the band's strengths with good, meaningful lyrics, great melodies, while still delivering a hard sound. Beggars is Thrice's best album to date.

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