Desperate Ground

Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
Buy On
  1. Alternative Press
    Apr 12, 2013
    90
    Thermals don't aim to shock. They don't aim to please, either, and their dynamic punk spirit is as smart and infectious as when they began in 2002. [May 2013, p.92]
  2. Magnet
    May 10, 2013
    85
    This half-hour slab of very high-energy punk would be cathartic if its root darkness weren't so persistently unsettling. [No. 98, p.60]
  3. Apr 16, 2013
    81
    Desperate Ground is easily the best Thermals record since The Body, The Blood, The Machine.
  4. 80
    This batch of tunes has got enough of everything The Thermals do best to satisfy their die-hards (who might call it a "return to form") and would even be a good jumping-off point for new fans.
  5. Apr 16, 2013
    80
    Suffice to say that this 26-minute concept album is confirmation of the power and enduring brilliance of the Thermals as they show no signs of slowing up--no signs of any erosion in their quality--and for that, we should be thankful.
  6. Apr 15, 2013
    80
    By daring to show a bit of personality, the Thermals continue to prove themselves in today's musical landscape.
  7. 80
    As ever, their key skill is being extremely dark as well as mega poppy.
  8. Apr 12, 2013
    80
    The huge accomplishment of Desperate Ground is this ability to grow up some without slowing down; but quite the opposite, the Thermals return to form with this scrappy collection, blazing through serious topics but never dropping the tempo long enough to get overwrought or self-indulgent.
  9. Apr 18, 2013
    70
    What stops Desperate Ground from eclipsing the Thermals' best work is its periodical monotony.
  10. 70
    Desperate Ground feels less righteous and ironic without the Dubyah & Guantanamo backdrop.
  11. Apr 15, 2013
    70
    Newer fans might not be totally impressed here but existing ones yearning for Harris’ observations should be satisfied otherwise.
  12. 70
    Desperate Ground is another great demonstration of what makes this band one of America’s worst kept secrets.
  13. Apr 12, 2013
    70
    The Thermals are still a band in awkward transition resulting in a record that is reliably good by their own decent standards, but which fails to fulfil its very apparent potential to be great.
  14. Apr 12, 2013
    70
    Though undeniably powerful, Desperate Ground does become a bit monotonous due to the lack of variety of mood and change in pace.
  15. Apr 17, 2013
    66
    It’s a loud and brash album, but too often, that’s all it is.
  16. Apr 25, 2013
    60
    The Thermals promised that their next album would be “loud, fast, incredibly scary and undeniably catchy.” The album we received, Desperate Ground, succeeds in most of these characteristics, but only at the bare minimum level.
  17. Apr 16, 2013
    60
    While the band’s return to its gruffer roots on Desperate Ground has its redeeming qualities, the reliance on pop-punk catchiness feels like a crutch.
  18. While the fury remains, there a perceptible dip in quality in nearly every aspect of the Thermals’ formula.
  19. May 24, 2013
    55
    Desperate Ground feels more like an unrelenting march than an odyssey.
  20. Apr 16, 2013
    50
    Desperate Ground has a tendency to sound monochromatic and homogenous.
  21. Apr 16, 2013
    50
    Desperate Ground is a record that really wants to convey having something to say and Harris has run out of ways to say that something.

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