The album has historically been the artistic achievement by which recording artists are judged. Occasionally an act can sustain a career by having a great live show or consistently releasing well-done singles, but usually the best path to a permanent place in the hearts of fans is the album. Unfortunately for Thunderheist, their self-titled debut makes it absolutely clear that in their current carnation, with their current sensibility, they are very much not an album band.
The notoriety that Thunderheist has seems to be primarily owed to their sweaty, throbbing live show, and even Thunderheist‘s worst tracks sound like they would probably translate well to a club setting. It’s not neccessarily that the songs on Thunderheist are bad, it’s just that there are 13 of them and that there’s no sense of artistic organization and purpose. Many of the separate tracks might work on their own, but crammed into this full-length they are uncompelling. To say that Thunderheist lacks dynamic is an understatement. Beatman Graham Zilla’s minimalist creations and MC Isis’s aloof, shadowed verses start to submerge the listener into a bass-riddled fog of sameness about halfway through the record, right after “Space Cowboy.”
For that first half however, Thunderheist’s scheme seems to be working just fine. Album opener “Sweet 16,” spits forth the illict glee that seems to dominate most of the record, and the record’s other standout tracks come in the first four songs, with the exception being “Space Cowboy,”which might tie “Nothing 2 Step 2” as the best song on Thunderheist’s debut. Curiously enough, these are also the only two songs on Thunderheist where Isis sings instead of rapping, which probably would’ve been a good way to break up the second half of the album’s monotony, had it been done more frequently.
But it wasn’t. While the track that follows “Space Cowboy,” “The Party After,” teeters on the edge, “Freddie” plunges both the listener and the record into an eardrum deadening deluge, and none of the successive tracks swim out of the flood. Graham’s beats become less ear-catching, and Isis’ delivery moves from aloofness to nonchalance, leaving the listener wondering where the record’s passion went.
The ambition to put out a decent club album is a laudable effort, but Thunderheist falls into many of the same pitfalls that a lot of the genre’s output does. If Thunderheist wants to make these kind of tracks for the rest of their career, that’s fine, but they should stick to singles; when “ready for the floor” jams like these are placed in album format, it should be noted that listenability and danceability definitely aren’t mutually inclusive.