I’ll be the first to admit that I’m somewhat of a purist when it comes to music. Far too often I’ve been the one claiming, “their first album was their best!” A first release is usually the most raw in terms of performance and production. There always seems to be a more authentic feel and sense of exploration as a band tries to find their sound. I’m not going to argue that Thursday’s Waiting is better than their later releases and judging from other reviews by critics and fans I doubt many hold “Waiting” as the pinnacle of the band's creative output. However, Waiting is a good album and a great first release for a band. Plus, it’s available to Caldwell Public Library patrons for free on Freegal. If you haven’t already heard about Freegal check out my post on the streaming service here.
Thursday formed sometime around 1997 and have released six albums to date. Like many bands, Thursday found commercial success with their second release Full Collapse: now considered an Emo classic. The band’s growing back catalog and continued success led to a 2015 reissue of Waiting, introducing their debut to a fan base that may have missed it the first time around. The reissue features original demos and a few extra goodies not included in this original release. A very earnest and promising first album, Waiting reveals much about Thursday's continued growth as a band and hints at what was yet to come from the group.
Waiting was recorded at Big Blue Meenie Recording Studio and produced by Sal Villanueva. The same Studio and producer that would later give us Taking Back Sunday’s thunderous debut, Tell All Your Friends. Sal would go on to produce Thursday’s next two albums including Full Collapse. At a sparse 33 minutes with 9 tracks, Waiting feels more like an EP than a full release but there’s some real bangers sprinkled throughout. Drawing influence from their Emo forefathers, there’s hints of bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Texas is the Reason, albeit with more of a post-hardcore edge.
The first track, “Porcelain” is a subdued opener to the album with its frequent breaks and relatively relaxed tempo. However, the track sets the mood of Waiting perfectly with chunky guitars and deeply tragic lyrics delivered by the slightly out of tune wail of singer Geoff Rickly. The lyrics of “Porcelain” deal with the suicide of a friend and reflect on the fragility of life. Tragedy is a common theme in most of these tracks and the lyrics both express and reflect on emotional pain with well composed lines and detailed imagery. While the main melodies suffer occasionally from Geoff’s raw singing and the backing screams lack depth, the emotional charge of the delivery helps to elevate the tracks above these shortcomings. The minimalist production suits the songs well and furthers the feeling that these could almost be live performances.
The two standout tracks here are “This Side of Brightness” with its lovely string accompaniment, and “Dying in New Brunswick.” Syncopated guitars and skillfully executed drum transitions make these tracks dynamic and engaging right from the start. The guitars sweep from a tight, crunchy distortion to a haunting, ethereal clean tone that moves skillfully with the vocal melodies. Unfortunately, as other critics have pointed out, the album doesn’t feel cohesive or intentional with its track choice and layout. It seems Waiting would have benefitted from being released as a leaner EP rather than an attempt at a full album.
If you enjoyed this review take a look at some of the other releases I’ve looked at on the Caldwell Public Library blog. If this album tickled your fancy, I highly recommend this split EP from Bayside, or Northstar’s first album, both available on Freegal.