Sun February 2, 2014
First Listen: Thumpers, 'Galore'
Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 9:18 am
Galore, the first album by the London duo Thumpers, is rooted resolutely in the first-person plural: Temperamentally as well as lyrically, it reaches out as a piecemeal missive both to and from you and me and everyone we know, assembling a steadfast vision of the whole world as a sprawling family in a tiny neighborhood. These are songs whose collective narrative engine is a belief in the power of a passionate few to forge meaningful connections, to keep life's ills at bay or, as "Unkinder (A Tougher Love)" would have it, to move the earth.
Thumpers' Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr., friends since they were 11, recorded Galore over a handful of intensive sessions in their hometown of Warwickshire, enlisting nearby siblings when a voice or two was needed. Accordingly, the album gains momentum from the us-kids-know spirit of similarly community-minded groups like Arcade Fire and Stars; per Hamson's stint with the dance-punk band Friendly Fires, it also makes use of the pastel-toned sterility and effervescent jangle of acts on the more self-consciously arty end of the pop spectrum.
Thumpers' secret weapons are somewhat darker, though: a rumbling, off-kilter rhythmic pulse that often calls to mind The National, as well as a pleasingly sinister undercurrent that carries even the perkiest songs on Galore to surprisingly moody, sometimes revelatory conclusions. By the rousing final pair, "Running Rope" and "Together Now," the album has given up any pretense of soundtracking the active lifestyles of the young and restless, settling instead into the impulse to stay in and brood. And that's a good thing, because Thumpers can brood more majestically than most.