The words “We will destroy the Earth and all we’ve made” taken in their most literal form appear to be strikingly brutal. Approach it via its position in the opening track on Thunder Dreamer’s latest LP, however, and the tone feels altogether more enigmatic and alluring. With its crushingly somber delivery, the words immediately create a palpable and dark romantic mood that sets the tone for the album to come. Indicative of a record that never once settles, even when it opens up into far more embracing moments of splendor, "Why Bother" immediately plunges the listener in to the heart of Thunder Dreamer’s work: Capture (2017), the band’s most fully realized and affecting work to-date.
Released in May via 6131 Records (Julien Baker, Touché Amoré), Capture takes the stifling small-town isolation that has peppered the bands work thus far — through their 2013 eponymous EP and 2015’s debut LP — and imbues it with the things that have always led to the most endearing of rock and roll records: hardships and heartaches, lethargy and crushing indifference in the face of it all. Absorbing such things from the Midwestern heartland they call home, that tough, resilient authenticity runs through the band’s new record like hot blood through cold, hard-working limbs.
Sprawling out across eight monumental tracks, Capture finds frontman Steven Hamilton in torch-bearing form. Once his solo project but now expanded to a four-piece, Thunder Dreamer specialize in writing songs that feel remarkably human. The emotional connections to the people and places that fade in and out of the record are not just a pertinent inclusion, but a vital one. Even when the band are crafting a gleaming slice of Americana — think Whiskeytown at their most opulent, or Songs: Ohia's rollicking pomp — the whole thing is underpinned by an overwhelming poignancy.
Some five years on from their initial outing, Thunder Dreamer offer an about-turn on Capture, shaping the rawness of their previous work in to something altogether more complete and substantial; a gritty take on the great American songbook, with its arms and heart left open to all.
Thunder Dreamer is: Steven Hamilton (vocals, guitar), Corey Greenfield (drums), Alex Wallwork (bass), and Zach Zint (piano).