‘Understanding in a Car Crash’ by Thursday
From the album Full Collapse (2001)
Die-hard fans of Track of the Week (hello to you both) may remember that I wrote about Dashboard Confessional’s ‘Screaming Infidelities’ back in week two and that the song had landed back on my radar as a result of me reading Andy Greenwald’s fantastic Nothing Feels Good. The one band that this book really got me listening to, however, is Thursday, who had previously been right on the edge of my radar due to the song ‘Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart’ and lead singer Geoff Rickly’s other two bands United Nations (what you would probably call a politically-charged experimental powerviolence/noisecore supergroup) and No Devotion (lostprophets, minus a sex offender, plus Rickly).
Full Collapse, the album from which ‘Understanding…’ is taken, is one of my most played albums of 2015 so far. Despite the fact that it is nearly fourteen years old it still sounds new and raw and it has a sheen that cannot be dulled despite how often I play it. Released to a backdrop of the nu-metal versus pop battle that threatened to consume the music video channels at the time, the album wasn’t without peers, with Thrice’s Identity Crisis and Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World being just two aesthetically similar releases in 2001.
The song is a perfect example this aesthetic; the sound of bands emerging from the basement shows put on by the likes of Rickly at his home in New Jersey into mainstream success (Thursday would go on to sign for Island Records after escaping the grasp of Victory, who seemed to piss off a lot of their roster for various reasons, including releasing the above video without the consent of the band and suggesting marketing Thursday whoopee-cushions). ‘Understanding in a Car Crash’ has the mix of delicate and in-your-face guitar tones and a beautiful bass tone (starting at about 0.33 in the above), plus a play-off between Rickly’s sung vocal and the screaming that cuts into it, the serve as standards for this particular brand of post-hardcore/emo.
In his book, Greenwald makes the connection between the disaffection of early 00s youth and them finding solitude in the lyrics and music of bands such as Thursday. Newt Briggs takes this one step further (and is possibly slightly flippant in doing so) in his list of ‘doom-and-gloom alternatives to the Beach Boys’ ‘Little Deuce Coupe’’ by saying ‘[l]eave it to the emo kids to turn a split second of underwear-soiling terror into a moment for deep thought and introspection’. I say flippantly because the valid emotional connection that Rickly is trying to achieve in his lyrics, riddled with negative tropes, extends to a lot more than ‘spinning hubcaps set[ting] the tempo’; the song speaks to people who have been in an emotional car crash, not just people who only have an experience of a physical car crash.
The sad news is that Thursday broke up in 2011, or ’12, or ’13 (depending on who you ask/how your read a ‘hiatus’), however Rickly still makes great music with the bands I mentioned above and has never ruled out a reunion for his old band. For now we have classics like ‘Understanding in a Car Crash’.