Personal Life - Kill Rock Stars
FILTER Grade: 73%
By Marty Sartini Garner on September 8, 2010
The Thermals’ Hutch Harris has always spat out his giddy jeremiads over gold-star punk hooks and a melodic optimism. Even at the height of their doom-telling—2006’s Bush-baiting The Body, The Blood, The Machine—The Thermals have always seemed to bash away from some solid ground with the hope that things might work out. This is exactly what makes Personal Life such a disappointment. Though ostensibly about love, the album is no more convinced of the possibility of amour than is AMC’s Mad Men. But while that series at least offers the rare glimpse of what might exist between human beings, Harris instead focuses on the manipulations and abuses of power of modern would-be lovers. To its credit, the band senses the sadness of this condition, but in its refusal to acknowledge even the superficial sweetness of physical attraction, Personal Life comes across dark, lost, and—shockingly for The Thermals—boring. At least Don and Betty Draper shared a bed for a little while.