The release of Thrice's latest album, Beggars came as a big surprise to a lot of fans for a couple reasons. One reason is because the band released the last two volumes of The Alchemy Index only last year and they were quick to the studio to record it's follow-up. The other reason is how quickly it leaked onto the internet, months before it's release even. The question that most Thrice fans are asking with this album is "What are they going to do next?" The Alchemy Index EP's showed the band is capable of branching out into different styles and doing it well, but how exactly are they going to showcase all of these new styles on their next album?
The answer to the last question is they don't. Well, at least on Beggars, they don't touch on all of the sounds they experimented on with The Alchemy Index. Beggars sounds like a more accessible version of what they were doing on The Alchemy Index as they continue to venture into progressive territory, but not that deep into it. The Alchemy Index was very off-putting to a lot of fans and was almost too much to handle as Thrice were jumping right into newer things without warning. Some of those fans they lost may come back with this album as it's a lot more stripped down and easier to listen to than those EPs were. This is clear right on the first track, "All the World is Mad," as it follows a more traditional song structure and is driven by it's powerful bass line. Thrice also uses more simple song structures on a few other songs like the piano-driven "Doublespeak," which features a nice contrast of soft and loud with how it's verse and chorus compliment each other. This isn't to say that Thrice still doesn't continue to think outside of the box, because they do throughout the album.
As a whole album, Beggars is most similar to the Air disc of The Alchemy Index mixed with a more accessible sound that's not completely over the top. They show a strong Radiohead influence on songs like "Wood and Wire" and "Circles" as they revolve around a soft, ambient vibe. This could also be said for the closing title track as the first half is mostly Dustin Kensrue softly crooning over a soft guitar pattern but then his singing turns into powerful cries as the intensity of the song slowly increases and it climaxes with it's instrumental piece that brings Beggars to an end. This may fly over the listeners head on first listen but it really is one of the strongest tracks on this album if you pay attention to it.
The music on Beggars is noticeably softer than most of Thrice's past material and the intensity is toned down a little bit for a majority of the album, but there are a few moments where the band still shows they can turn it up a notch. "At the Last" and "Talking Through Glass" are the two heaviest songs on the record as they are a lot more up-tempo and are driven by some terrific guitar riffs delivered by Teppei Teranishi and Dustin Kensrue. These heavier songs also show a more impressive vocal performance from Kensrue than the lighter tracks do since he tends to exercise his singing range a lot more the heavier tracks.
Teranishi nearly steals the show on Beggars not only with his guitar playing but with his work on the piano and producing the album. The keyboards on songs like "Wood and Wire" are what really creates the atmosphere that gives these songs life and makes them great. He and the rest of the band did a fine job with producing this record and making sure that everything is in tip-top shape for this record. Riley and Eddie Breckenridge also have their contributions to the record as Riley doesn't miss a beat with his drumming and Eddie's bass playing drives quite a few tracks.
Beggars is only ten tracks long but it makes a very lasting impression during that brief duration as it shows the band going back to a more straight-forward sound while still continuing to go into new territory and not regressing musically. They could lose some fans with this record, but they might win even more back since older fans will glad to see that the more accessible side of Thrice has returned but with a more evolved sound. Beggars is a record that might require a couple listens to really love but you will find more things to like about it with each listen.
8.5 / 10
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