Taking a cue from the title of their last album, indie rockers The Thermals will soon disappear—earlier today, the punk-pop group announced it would disband after 15 years, seven studio albums, and three labels (including SubPop and Kill Rock Stars).
Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster founded the group in 2002. The Portland, Oregon-based duo, who’ve also performed as Hutch & Kathy, released More Parts Per Million—a lasting testament to their DIY spirit, with Harris playing every instrument—in 2003. Over the years, they took up with various musicians on tour, including Chris Walla, who joined The Thermals on the blistering Fuckin’ A. Despite what the name might suggest, it was a much more polished outing for the band—and songs like “God And Country” were already heralding the more political bent of future albums.
But it was on 2006's The Body, The Blood, The Machine that The Thermals best showed off their blend of garage-punk chops and social commentary. The album’s potshots at religious zealotry and tyranny were perfect for the Dubya years, though they could be transplanted to the current political landscape without missing a beat. Harris and Foster’s chemistry and combined fury powered The Body, but the album’s more meditative tracks, like “St. Rosa And The Swallows,” were already pointing toward a new direction for the band. 2009's Now We Can See revisited the religious imagery and preoccupation with death, and added a new face to the lineup—percussionist Westin Glass. The newly-minted trio went on to release Personal Life, a mostly self-reflective record that focused on individual loss and heartbreak more than countrywide disappointment.
The band stumbled a bit on Desperate Ground, then got right back up to straddle the divide between pop and punk on 2016's We Disappear. The Thermals built a fan base on a deceptively simple sound, but after 15 years, they’ve officially called it quits. So even if it weren’t snowing in Chicago today, we’d don some long underwear to bid farewell to these smart, lo-fi rockers.