Setting aside the inherent ego that accompanies a lot of what passes for music journalism these days (not that we’re entirely innocent of that here at Glasswerk either), occasionally a record pops up that cuts through the noise and returns some perspective to what it’s so easy to lose sight of – we do this because we love music, and we love music because it can be a euphoric, melancholic, binding and beautiful experience. Then Thickens are one of those bands that seem capable of turning out these very special records as if it were a regular business.
Their debut full length Death Cap At Anglezarke was a redemptive and grandiose body of work that embodied front man and mastermind Jon-Lee Martin’s experience of drug abuse, depression and every day life in his home town of Chorley. Colic is the next logical step – the work of a man who’s dragged himself out of despair and stands on the edge of the rest of his life wondering exactly what he’s going to do with it.
Often sexually charged and wallowing in the grimier side of life, the album treads an accomplished and delicate line, balancing black humour and darker sentiments with an anthemic strain of US college rock that recalls Pinkerton-era Weezer. Indeed, the level of songwriting often surpasses that of Cuomo’s more throwaway moments and transcends the poppier sentiments for something altogether more substantial.
‘Cum Summer’ and ‘My Sunday’ are particular highlights that really showcase Martin’s gift of pairing melody with piquant and poignant lyrics like the deliciously matter-of-fact confessional on self medication of ‘My Sunday’; “It’s Sunday, the tears splash on your grave. By Monday, the dope arrives – I’m saved. I’m back in the fog feeling nothing at all, back in the mist feeling lazy and shit. Friday, the residual pain kicks in.”
For those of us who find ourselves wading through life’s ups and downs with a weary resignation, the importance of connecting with a band like Then Thickens can easily be overlooked. Back in the mist? Let one of the UK’s most insightful and under-appreciated bands guide you back to lighter days. Masterful.
– Jamie Otsa
Support Band: Stunning second record from Chorley quartet