originally published April 23, 2008
Without a second thought, nothing from the sleepy burg of Huntsville, AL has put me into zero gravity since my adolescent NASA Space Camp experiences quite like Celebration, the debut album from the city's garage-pop overlords Thomas Function. Mellifluously mixing genres like country, R&B, psychedelia and blues underneath a sheen of jangly pop, Thomas Function has crafted a stunning collection of epic, memorable pop that builds up to a stunning release.
Thomas Function doesn't hide its influences. Effortlessly working in the guitar interplay of Television, the multi-instrumentation of the golden age of The Kinks, the sluggish guitar solos of The Stones and throwing in splashes of modern psychedelia, its 13 songs are not entirely original, but unquestionably well-crafted and thrilling. The vocals are even a snotty, southern take on the Verlaine yelp. Thomas Function might have a lot in common with the new wave of dance-worthy pop bands like Black Kids and The Go! Team, but its allegiances belong to the garage before the nightclub.
Many of Celebration's songs have been released on the band's prior vinyl singles, but it's great to see them reintroduced on this album. The songwriting is strong - fears of the future (“Relentless Machines,” “2012 Blues”), crappy romance (“Lights Down Low,” “Can't Say No”), and old-fashioned drug yarns (“Peanut Butter and Paranoia Jam”).
Classically minded rock fans will celebrate the unforgettable arrival of Thomas Function. The guitars keep jangling, the organ and/or electric piano rollicks throughout and the epic buildups climax in explosive rock release. A recent "Liner Notes" bemoaned the death of rock. The members of Thomas Function can't comment at the moment; they're too busy grave robbing. If this is a celebration in Huntsville, I'm ready to party. Bring on the summer.