That the cover of Thank You’s first LP, Golden Worry, seemingly pays homage to that of Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation makes sense only a couple minutes into the record. Thank You’s sound is fierce and propulsive, even cacophonous at times, with a kind of frustrated, pent-up optimism.
Throughout the record, rapid-fire, tribal drums buttress similarly rapid-fire, prismatic guitars, wriggling among their higher registers, pounding out sixteenth-beat strumming, or otherwise gyrating, warbling, grinding, and crashing into the walls. The one thing they seem to refuse to do is surrender to anything resembling a traditional melody or riff. You can’t help but imagine the sweat pouring off of these guys as they play.
On top of this are a number of playful eccentricities, including some synth work at the beginning of “Birth Reunion” that, joined by repetitive, rigid drumming, is reminiscent of a Silver Apples tune; strained, yelping, indecipherable, multi-layered vocals, recalling Animal Collective most vividly on closer “Can’t/Can”; and even a jaw harp at one point in “Continental Divide.”
There are a lot of touchstones here; for exceptionally brief moments, you’ll be reminded acutely of one of many bands that have come before them. But despite being well-versed in the canon of art-rock, and despite deserving admiration for their instrumental athleticism, the outcome is less cathartic and rewarding than you might expect. Most of the tension is superficial, derived from volume and speed rather than composition. Opener “1-2-3 Bad” might be the best example of this; adhering mostly to major keys and a monotonous beat, it’s punctuated by an abrupt distortion/cymbal squall at the end, an exclamation point on a rather mundane sentence. “Continental Divide” is almost halfway over before it changes course from its feeble rattling of the same two chords, and even then it doesn’t manage to pay off. I recognize that monotony and repetition have (have had?) their role in this genre, but Thank You don’t wear either very well.
“Strange All” is a notable exception, as it manages to encompass all their qualities that, when isolated, can’t seem to hold their own. But for all the depth and richness Golden Worry ought to have, it doesn’t seem to get anywhere unless cranked up on a set of good speakers. It’s rarely messy enough to be visceral, and rarely clean enough to be cerebral. Even the 30-minute running time is underwhelming. In fact, the album ends with a long electronic sigh, as if acknowledging that it hasn’t accomplished anything.