Third Class album is anything but
(Article in The Wooster Voice, 2009)
by Zach McBride, Voice Staff
“The Red Wheelbarrow” is the new album from the Youngstown band, Third Class. Comprised of brothers Lee Boyle and Wooster alum Jack Boyle ’08 alongside Pepe Parish, Third Class offers an excellent record that displays the new sound of the band and the growth since their album released in 2006, “Chloe’s Epitaph is Chloe.”
Third Class’s sound is abrasive and at the same time lucid. It weaves in and out of convention and familiarity. There are times when their sound is reminiscent of so many artists it’s impossible to pinpoint just one, and then eight seconds further into the song it collapses into a musical heap of conflicting layers, only to reconstruct within seconds into a completely different song.
This is the problem in reviewing them: their music is so complex that it is difficult to summarize their overarching character. Each phase of their songs could easily be its own universe, yet layered as they are and constantly morphing, they form an elusive shape. The specific sounds of “The Red Wheelbarrow” start with the upbeat and catchy melodies of “Party In Your House.” This track most closely resembles their earlier works, comprising of driving lyrics surrounded and seemingly held aloft by syncopated rhythms and frequent changes in tempo.
Following this is “Ellison’s Harlem,” exemplifying their new and mature sound. It offers driving chords and a steady beat, often left behind in the complexities of their earlier work. After this, the band fuses these two sounds together in “Rainy and Stormy,” an amalgamation of the two sounds — and a marriage that works best of all. These three opening tracks offer the strongest and most insightful survey of the general sound of Third Class.
Yet that’s not where the brilli-ance ends.
The rest of the disc offers a tranquil ex-perience, interrupted from time to time with experimental interludes that run from the terrifying “Egypt Then Roswell” to the frantic surprise-punk track “Flight of Owls.” Third Class does not allow you to sleep while listening to their album. It is an intellectual pursuit.
The disc closes with what can only be described as a joyful and sentimental romp. “Great Days” and “Nursery” provide a sense of closure to the album. They seem to describe the memories of the past, both painful and filled with joy. Slower than the other tracks, they are an excellent closing thought to a sometimes frantic sounding work.
The liner notes to the album offer perhaps the best description of the history and tone of Third Class. It playfully tells a story of “three feral ‘children’” who sought to “rebuild the tools of their craft.” What they produced after “37 decades” of isolation was “not wholly unbearable to others.”
And that is, in a sense, what Third Class has done. Previously dealing with experimental pop, they have moved towards a more conventional sound. Yet they have retained their experimental influences, and because of it, today produce a sound unlike anybody else.
Third Class has their two most recent albums, including this one, available on iTunes or through their Web site at www.thirdclass.net. For those in search of some serious musical brain food, “The Red Wheelbarrow” is an eminently worthy purchase (or equally satisfactory illegal download).