With raging instrumentals and icy vocals, Thanks slithers its way through No Mercy in the Mountain, the latest from the dark soul rock ‘n’ roll sextet out of PDX. If it’s possible to be confidently angst-filled, Thanks manages to nail that, alternatively keeping you on edge, but comfortably within its folds.
2014’s Blood Sounds firmly established the group as deft navigators of grim instrumental lines and sardonic lyricism. No Mercy sees the band playing it relatively straight, but remaining equally compelling. Lead singer Jimi Hendrix’s vocal prowess anchors the tracks throughout, allowing the nuanced guitar stylings and merciless bass lines to power up and down as necessary. Lead single “Bad Tattoos” jumps and writhes as Hendrix does her version of Weiland growls, hardening and softening with the beat, and when the drums kick into a little up-tempo shuffle, the energy rockets into a satisfying climax. “Lost Magic” is a mellower take on what Thanks would sound like as a blues outfit, and Andrew Hanna’s guitar appropriately paces the track with inky licks, demonstrating an excellent understanding of when to press through and when to fade. Garrett Brown’s bass work — a notable standout throughout the album — lays an excellent foundation for the noticeably conscious song structure to stand out. The synergy between Brown and drummer Drew Sprouse is palpable. The meaty tom work and timely fills allow Brown to present his own muscular lines without fear of overpowering. If Hendrix is the soul of Thanks, Sprouse is the heart—pulsating and life affirming.
Although less sonically present from track to track, Noah Jay-Bonn’s keys offer subtle variations, turning songs that might be straight-ahead dirty rock into something more tonally interesting. Hanging in the background and fleshing out chord structures, cellist and back-up vocalist Lilly Maher brings an additional dimension of musicality that leads Thanks down paths that might have gone unexplored as a straight four-piece.
“I’ll Try” features perhaps the album’s most earwormy slice, with a clean, repetitive hook from Hanna bookending a simple but vocally gripping chorus from Hendrix. It’s indicative of the flexibility hidden behind the layers of aggression that live on the surface of each track. At first glance, No Mercy in the Mountain is a rock album, but don’t be deceived; Thanks proves that what’s really interesting is available for those who are ready to listen between the lines.»
– Charles Trowbridge