Often the Thinker, hailing from California’s San Diego, present a new album “Better Part of Vice” which was released in December of last year. Had I known about its release, it probably would’ve made its way into a spot on my year-end list.
RELEASE DATE: 05 December 2016 LABEL: Self-released
The album comes out swinging, sporting a beefy horn section with a solid sense of harmony, giving way to nod-inducing drumlines and a bassist that lures you in with its riffs that are equal parts complex and memorable; laying the groundwork for an album that urges the very soul to swing along to its rhythms.
Every track feels like an epic journey inward. Living up to their name, Often the Thinker demands that you close your eyes and introspect as you rock in your chair with the beat. “Better Part of Vice” speaks without words to the listener, and doesn’t stop talking. Whether it’s the southern feel of the synth in ‘Letters’ or the frantic drumming in ‘Earnestness’, there will be a moment when you find yourself surrounded by the sounds, all preaching the same message to your innermost being.
“Better Part of Vice” doesn’t really push the envelope, cross borders, or challenge the stereotypes of the genre. But it explores familiar territory with new eyes, and gives you a new perspective on what you’re already familiar with. You could argue its simplicity and you’d have a strong case, but this album is executed so perfectly that its strength as an album is undeniably firm. A strong album with strong tracks filled with strong moments made with strong layering. It’s like expert engineers building a small bridge. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, but it can be used endless times and stand up to whatever you throw at it.
The band as a whole work extremely well together, all harmonizing with each other to create rich textures and layers, weaving themselves around each other to create a warm blanket of atmospheres that envelope you in their comforting coverings. The way they utilize so much sound from every simple layer, maximizing on minimalism, really reminds me of prominent bands like Do Make Say Think, or early Mogwai. For newer fans to the genre, I highly recommend getting into this album as a gateway to the earlier era of post-rock.
I truly love this album, it never fails to impress me no matter how many times I listen to it. There’s always something to strike every fancy, make my ears prick, and resonate with my every temperament. With moods that speak to my soul, compositions that throw me back to “the good old days”, instrumentation that makes me wish I were more talented, and production that makes the whole thing shine, there’s nothing holding me back from rating this a 10 than the fact that they might come out with an even better album.