For many artists, Covid-19 still plagues and subjects them to many new challenges the entertainment industry had never faced before. Disrupted by the constant tour delays, rescheduling, and forced cancelations—life after feels nowhere in sight. Cut off from what was once so familiar; resources, community, and income. A lot of bands probably believed their best work was behind them due to global pandemic. Thrice could have met that very same demise. Instead, they managed to transform these troubling times into one of the most exhilarating albums of their career. Revealing a wider range than any of its predecessors and a more mature sound. 2021’s incredible Horizons/East is bounded eloquently and played as if sequenced by the natural flow of the changing seasons.
To an extent “Color of the Sky” is a safe and appropriate way to introduce the album. It could be a template for the rest of the record as well. The draft is the same—unhurried with lots of animated motion introducing the world this work inhabits—but the details are deep and thrilling. “Scavengers” tests the waters with some desolate writing. Enticing the listener by pulling their hearts strings with one solid melancholic chorus. (“Never mind who held you last night. Come and take my hand.”) It is not a surprise why it was used for the lead single. The tracks then enter a series of pivots, one after another.
Thrice was not afraid to inch too far left of the dial here. With its outwardly punk-influenced “Buried in the Sun”. Then jazzy “Northern Lights” a gleaming and self-affirming track about hope. (“Now I see there’s another way to see, and I can see a better way to build a world where every hand is held and holding on.”) “The Dreamer” and “Dandelion Wine” are the reason why I judge others for not always listening to albums all the way through. You miss so much content that speaks for itself and stands alone.
While Thrice’s stylistic experiments are there, their default is plain and simple alternative rock. For all the incredible songs on display within Horizons/East, they do not deny themselves their cake of radio-friendly singles. The pop punky “Summer Set Fire to the Rain” and Deftones-Esque power ballad “Robot Soft Exorcism” will wow you without the over-the-top innovation, but both are great bops. Finally, it ends with “Unitive/East” which’s piano was a nostalgic call back to an older song of theirs “For Miles”, to me personally. Goosebumps all around.
Ultimately, it is its civility and hopeful spirit that most distinguishes Horizons/East from any of its predecessor albums. Early in their career, Thrice was lumped with the era’s alternative rock movement and was too often cast against emo, formulaic production that snuffed out their natural brilliance by the casual listener. With its tasteful angst and thick ambiance, this record never lags. It is another consecutive victory in their catalog. Another strong case against the notion that rock music as a genre has to go beyond difficult in production to transcend.
On September 17, 2021, Horizons/East will be released digitally by Epitaph Record, meanwhile, you can listen now to their latest single’s music video for “Summer Set Fire to the Rain” down below!