The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me” (and by extension Hot Fuss) was at the fore of the dance-rock craze, so it made sense for people to ignore the fact that half the album can’t be danced to at all (“All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Andy You’re a Star,” “Everything Will Be Alright,” among others). Instead, the Killers just wrote good, hook-laden pop-rock songs. The The The Thunder has a similar thing going on in their debut All at Once: there are some danceable moments that are easily latched onto, but the majority of this is indie rock.
“Indie rock” quickly becoming a synonym for “melodic rock that wants to be taken with some amount of seriousness,” and that holds for All At Once. The eight songs here feature a vocalist with a tonal resemblance to Brandon Flowers, a bevy of instrumentalists that know their way around a melodic hook, and a mood that hovers just above “serious music.” (Radiohead this isn’t; neither is it Hot Chelle Rae, however.) The highlight is “Hands Together,” a tune that mixes vibraphone, distorted bass, squalling guitar and a frantic vocal performance for a gripping tune. Other tunes draw off the power of group vocals (“Pound for Pound”) or sparse arrangements (“Hey Forever”), while maintaining a mix between serious aspirations, pop melodies and danceable moments (you know, for the kids at the live shows!).
Some will be put off by the vocals (shades of Alec Ounsworth from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah creep in), while others will not like the fact that this sits between easily categorizable idioms: there’s not really a summer jam here, but this isn’t moody thinkpiece music. It will be interesting to see if The The The Thunder continue to explore this vein, or if they move in one direction for their follow-up release. They’ve got a good start going here, so I’m interested to see where they go.