We Built Too Many Walls

The Body, The Blood, The Machine by The Thermals

It's been four years, and most people are familiar with The Body, The Blood, The Machine. It's a hard album to ignore, but somehow I managed. For me, listening to it when it came out, the rough guitars and pounding energy of the album did nothing but grate my ears; I didn't even bother getting into the story. I was just coming out of listening to a plethora of bands from the nineties, and my ears needed a rest. I managed to like "Test Pattern" for its semi-romantic lyrics and moved on to Sigur Ros without looking back.

Today is the first time I've ever sat down and listened to the album. Even if you can't get into the story of "a young couple who must flee a United States governed by fascist faux-Christians", the songs themselves are still worth listening to. As Pitchforks' Amanda Petrusich aptly claims, "these tracks land like bombs".

From the very first track "Here's Your Future", it's evident right away that The Thermals have something to say. The lyrics reference Noah and the Crucifixion, singing "God said here's your future/It's going to rain/So we're packing our things/We're building a boat/Where God will create the new master race/Cause we're so pure/Oh, we're so pure/So here's your future". By the time we get to "An Ear For Baby", we catch a glimpse of this fascist religious state, with the orders "Pull out your best suit...it's time to groom you for judgement" and "The siren's on/Let the water run, leave the lights on...draw the bridges, dig the ditches steep/We're gonna need a new border". The image of the fascist Christian government is perfected in "Power Doesn't Run on Nothing", with the lines "So give us what we're asking for/Cause either way, we're gonna take it/Our power doesn't run on nothing", later transforming the line to "Cause God is with us, and our god's the richest/Our power doesn't run on nothing/It runs on blood/And blood is easy to obtain when you have no shame".

Two of my new personal favorite tracks would be "A Pillar of Salt" and "Returning to the Fold", merely for their sincerely enjoyable pop hooks. The guitars are sharp and self-assured yet untamed. I enjoy "Returning to the Fold" especially for the lyrics "I regret leaving my mind/I forgot I needed it to think/And maybe to keep me alive/Can't believe I got so far with a head so empty".

The album lasts just over 35 minutes, making it short enough to not be repetitive, and keep each song fresh and uncrowded. Personally the album's first six tracks are the strongest, though "Power Doesn't Run on Nothing" is a pretty solid track. Musically, The Body, The Blood, The Machine isn't just a collection of quotable lyrics. Every song is just as much fun to listen to as it is to figure out the meaning behind it.

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