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Album Review

Starting with the alternately tender and driving "Fish Eye," Thermos finds Bailter Space coming fully into their own. McLachlan, having engineered Tanker, takes over for Kilgour on this record, restoring the original Gordons lineup. Rather than indulging in simple nostalgia, though, the threesome expand on the strengths of their previous releases to create possibly their best album yet — under either name. Parker's equally bitter and emotional lyrics touch on many different areas of life, while his newfound singing powers impress; he'll never be mistaken for a soul wailer, but he brings a careful passion to his range like few others can. Musically, the trio continue with the same blend of accessibility and aggression as before, striking a near-perfect balance between the two. "Fused" is Bailter Space at their considerable best, with the digital ring of Parker's guitar and the crisp rhythm work of Halvorsen and McLachlan creating a powerful, moody roll as Parker half whispers the vague threat of the lyrics. "Zero Return" both lulls and kicks, and the band fires up an explosive climax. The Gordons' roots aren't entirely forgotten over the course of the album: "The State" captures the declamatory feel of many of their cuts, while still sounding more like the current band than the old one. "Hard Wired" is more aggressive, but in an abstract fashion — much like 154-era Wire — featuring echoed vocals looped throughout the mix. Parker's sense of personal politics is as fiery as before: "Ad Man" rides a great McLachlan drum line that could almost be a tribute to glam rock, as Parker cautiously regards the titular figure in question. Powerful and beautiful, Thermos is flat-out great.


Formed: 1987 in Christchurch, New Zealand

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Led by former Gordons guitarist Alister Parker, noise rock unit Bailter Space emerged from Christchurch, New Zealand in 1987. Originally comprised of former Clean and Great Unwashed drummer Hamish Kilgour, Pin Group alum Ross Humphries on bass, and Glenda Bills on drums, the group issued its debut EP, Nelsh, on the famed Flying Nun label later that year; both Humphries and Bills departed soon after, resulting in the addition of former Gordons bassist John Halvorsen in time to record the 1988 full-length...
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