PALMS - BIO
At the end of summer 2017, not long after Thrice had finished up a national tour, singer Dustin Kensrue woke up in the middle of the night and found himself fixated on the mental image of an open hand - a visual that instantly became his touchstone in the writing of Thrice's tenth album, Palms.
"I got up and started listing off all the things an open palm represented, especially as opposed to the idea of a closed hand or a fist," says Kensrue, who co-founded Thrice with guitarist Teppei Teranishi, bassist Eddie Breckenridge, and drummer Riley Breckenridge in 1998. "That became the basis of the record: that feeling of being open, whether it's open to mystery or to receive things or to give. The album came from a place of trying to combat the hate and bigotry we're seeing in the world right now, but attempting to do that in a way that's nondivisive."
In the spirit of that openness, Thrice created Palms with a free-form and fluid approach to the album's sonic element. The result is their most expansive work to date, encompassing everything from viscerally charged post-hardcore to piano-driven balladry. To carve out that eclectic sound, Thrice enlisted trusted producer Eric Palmquist for the recording of the percussion and vocal tracks, and self-produced all of the guitar parts on Palms. "When we track our own stuff we tend to be far less neurotic about getting every note perfect," says Kensrue. "It's more about getting the right emotion out of the performance, so that it connects on a deeper level."
Mixed by John Congleton (a Grammy Award-winner known for his work with Lucy Dacus, Xiu Xiu, and St. Vincent), Palms unfolds with an immediacy that magnifies the power of each track. "The vocals are very dry, without a lot of delay or reverb," says Kensrue. "As the person who's singing that's kind of a scary thing, but I think there's a forcefulness to the album that sets it apart from our other records."
Much like its predecessor - 2016's politically minded To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere - Palms mines a great deal of inspiration from the literary and philosophical realm. In his lyric-writing, Kensrue drew from sources as varied as the lectures of philosopher Alan Watts, the writings of Franciscan friar Richard Rohr, and the process metaphysics of mathematician Alfred North Whitehead. "In the past couple of years I've come to embrace a more non-dualistic way of looking at the world, partly because of listening to and reading things that broke me out of those black-and-white patterns," Kensrue notes.
On the album-opening "Only Us," Thrice bring that newfound understanding to a heady fusion of frenetic synth lines, fragile harmonies, and massively heavy guitar riffs. "'Only Us' came from thinking about how we're so easily divided into 'us' and 'them,' when really we have an inherent ability to care for those in our group, and the parameters for who falls into that group are extremely flexible," says Kensrue. "It's about how the things that we think separate us are actually inconsequential, and if we could broaden the idea of 'us' to include all people, it would help us to build a more loving and civil society."
All throughout Palms, Thrice instill both vulnerability and urgency to their uncompromising self-reflection. At turns gracefully melodic and furiously intense, lead single "The Grey" captures what Kensrue describes as "the frustration that comes from straining within some kind of system, and the feeling of freedom that comes from moving into a new way of understanding things." One of the album's most stunning moments, the piano-laced and quietly glorious "Everything Belongs" examines the notion that "there's a way to view the world where everyone does belong and fits together quite beautifully," according to Kensrue. And on "Beyond the Pines," Thrice close out Palms with an intricate arrangement of crystalline guitar tones, gentle percussion, and starkly delivered lyrics inspired by a passag