Just a mere six months after their 2017 release The Fear the four men from Missouri known as Thames regrouped once again for a fuller, more focused EP entitled Plagues of the 21st Century. Fresh off the heels from headlining a sold-out show of 300 concertgoers, these lads have quickly risen to the top of the St. Louis music scene by opening for nationally touring acts such as Vesperteen, Waker, Ian Moore, Vista Kicks and Jake Wesley Rogers. Thames’ latest third EP has been praised for its variety in genres ranging from electronic to alternative to acoustic rock. It’s been described as a blend of LCD Soundsystem, Coldplay and Muse.
Last time I reviewed Thames’ work The Fear which also has a great variety of sounds, the band’s focus there was on the current social order and the ways in which this order plays out in our lives. On Plagues of the 21st Century, the band’s aim was to address the stigma behind mental illness and raise awareness for those who are struggling. Lead singer Gabriel Jackson pours his heart out and goes deep in the abuses of prescription medication and also his anger towards the pharmacy industry.
“Take Flight” starts off with a light, catchy piano and a driving rhythm. The chorus which begins with “Youth is done and over” and the build up before “We are too young / To be feeling this old / Giving up is the same / As letting go” – sounds fresh and contemporary. I love the beat of “Boys Don’t Cry” – Jackson’s piano pounds and Connor Fiehler’s bass on every beat, Sean Buchert’s snare on the second and fourth – and the key that it’s in is a fabulous choice. The backing vocals are fantastic as well and add a lot of color, as does the Zander Hayes’ searing guitar solo.
“Postmodernism” begins with a jittery keyboard and takes a detour musically from the first two tracks with its intense flavor of electronic and post-new wave sound. This one addresses the anguish and anger towards the drug and the drug pusher. The tempo takes a dive into a new dynamic direction as the lyrics go deeper into a darker message and the back up vocalists deliver that message eloquently. I really like how Thames arranged this tune – quite original.
The lyrics to “I.N.O.Y.” are minimal, but man, do they cut to the quick – “At the bottom of the bottle / Is your eternal slumber.” The music to this number is tender and sad, lonely and beautiful with just Jackson on vocals and piano. I don’t know what the song’s acronym stands for, but in one word, I would say this song is about complete surrender. “Advertaste” starts with a deep, driving guitar and a rocking off beat that’s infectious. The approach to this song is gritty and loud. The lyrics go deep and describe what happens when the feeling of taking addictive medication is all you live for – “Red and orange, all the way down / Burning down, till the in looks outside / It’s calling out your name.”
The last tune “Please Believe It’s Not Your Fault” is a driving acoustic, toe-tapping romp with Jackson on vocal, guitar and Buchert busting out a clean beat. Lyrically, the words suggests a relationship that gets affected by their mate’s use and abuse of drugs, (or what I assume to be is drug use.) Thames’ addresses the plague of the 21st century, which seems to be at the moment, addiction to prescription medications, in a non-preachy way. Again, this quartet offers a good variety of sounds which all work well together. Thames has a few upcoming shows soon in St. Louis – so if you’re spending some summer drive time in the heart of the Midwest, check them out.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook