By Ethan Cook
Over the past couple weeks I’ve been thinking about what album I wanted to write about next; and, more broadly, what value writing an album review offers to the reader, artist and myself. After some thinking, I realized that the medium of a review allowed me to do two things; first, it allowed me to share some of my favorite music from artists that more people need to listen to; and second, it let me explore why I like the music I like. I think all of these things are valuable to me, and I hope that you, as a reader or an artist, find value in this too.
After getting that bout of self exploration out of the way, I decided I wanted to write about the Brooklyn pop-punk band THICK’s debut album, 5 Years Behind. And y’all, this album absolutely rips. Clocking in at just 27 minutes, THICK manages to cram 11 punk anthems on to this LP. I’ve listened to this album a lot since it was released in March, and I want to break down a few things I think this killer debut album does really well.
First, THICK has a contagious, head-banging, raw energy that makes you feel like you’re in the front row of a concert at a dive bar. America’s botched handling of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all of our lives in massive ways, but one thing I mourn everyday is the loss of live music. For me, the next best thing to being at a concert is rocking out to THICK, vicariously living through their rowdy rock’n’roll energy.
Second, 5 Years Behind does a commendable job putting their own spin on the pop-punk formula. All through my t(w)eenage years I constantly listened to Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, My Chemical Romance and the rest of the edgy teenager pantheon (who didn’t??). THICK’s lyrics have an emo vibe similar to the aforementioned bands of my tweens, but instead of pining over (now kind of cringey) themes of rejection and conflicted feelings about girls, THICK focuses on the more contemporary problems of fake news, toxic masculinity and wasted time. Weaving together these themes with a familiar pop-punk sound gives this album a modern-yet-nostalgic feel. It’s easy to imagine I’m laying on my bed in eighth grade, but I’m jamming out to a song about men telling women how to play guitar instead of Patrick Stump moaning about how his crush already has a boyfriend. An overdue improvement.
THICK is at their best when they are blunt and specific about the message they want to get across. “Mansplain,” “Fake News” and “Sleeping Through the Weekend” are some of my favorite tracks on the album, and all of them lay their grievances with society right out in the open. Tracks where the themes are less specific or hidden in metaphor tend to miss the mark for me, but fortunately those are few to be found.
So, next time you’re feeling bummed out about the fact that you’re not going to a concert this weekend, I recommend spinning 5 Years Behind and pretending you’re rocking out with all your closest friends. I know that’s what I’m dreaming about these days.
Below are my multi-media “further exploration” suggestions based on the themes of this album. Thanks for reading! Peace out.
- The Hex Girls – the best cartoon rock band of all time (and a major childhood crush, anyone else???).
- Destroy Boys – Another phenomenal, majority women rock group. Sardonic lyrics galore.
- This picture of Joan Jett and The Runaways at the beach always makes me smile. It also makes me consider wearing only the color black for the rest of my days.
- Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig’s breakout film. Saorise Ronan plays the rebellious teen perfectly. Lady Bird listens to THICK, guaranteed.
- THICK describes the mosh pit at their shows as “an aggressive hug”. Sign me up.