Third Thought inject a much-needed sense of play into the at times overly serious world of indie rock with “5/10 or betta”. Nothing here ever overstays its welcome, for they embrace a freewheeling chaotic and celebratory spirit throughout the whole of the album. Stylistically they refuse pigeonholing, at times going for an off-kilter funk, lo-fi, New Zealand pop, grunge, and a whole slew of other genres filtered through their own skewed vision. Even at its most experimental and out-there, they prove to be surprisingly consistent creators of unexpectedly infectious riffs. Rhythms are meant to be toyed with as is virtually everything within the sprawling album.
While definitely not falling into any current trend, their approach harkens back to an early 90s slacker indie rock vibe, perhaps best embodied by Slanted and Enchanted era Pavement. The songs possess so much life behind them and execute them with perfection. Nor are they overly concerned about fidelity for their approach brings to mind some of Wingtip Sloat’s most feverish dreams as the multiple layers interact in ways that approximate some never before discovered strain of psychedelic rock. On the flipside their sun-drenched acid western twang draws from the Sun City Girls at their most unhinged.
Angular guitar with an insistent bassline introduces the album with “Vote On The Issues!”. There is almost an easy-listening quality to the breezy “Need Careful Direct Democracy!”. On “Brit Girlfriend Funk” they truly go for the tongue in cheek without needing to say a single word. “Nothing to Everything” features soaring guitars alongside a truly loopy disposition. Sounding like a long-lost Swell Maps track is the jangle of “Feelings Of Reality”. Stephen Malkmus vibes reign supreme over the optimism of “Stuttering On Time I Think”. Eclectic percussion underpins “Mike Gravel 4 Prez!”. Even further along the strange journey is the oddly pastoral “It’s Cool 3” which sounds like something Guided By Voices would kill to have written. The fuzz is strong on the wash of sound that is “Iconic Irony”. A gentle touch guides the sweet “Free Freelance Work 2”.
With “Another Free Freelance Song!” there’s a bit of the Meat Puppets at their most disoriented. Jerky rhythms with a hint of funk “Thanks Doc!” has a hypnagogic pop aspect to it. Like being thrown into the middle of things is the spaciousness of “T,B, & MG 4 Prez!”. Layer upon layer adds to a dramatic quality on “Broken Down Android”. Totally out of their minds “The Cringe Man” meshes lo-fi, grunge, and post-punk into a satisfying sprawling package. Spry rhythms underpin the nimbleness of “Stagnation Nation”. A quiet triumph rests on “Finally Got This!” as the song is driven forward by a happiness of sorts. Cryptic layers swirl about with “Maybe Next Time”. Letting loose a little bit “The Jack Knife” messes with the listener in just the right way. “Our Turn” brings the whole album to a fantastic conclusion as the light-filled splendor feels irresistible.
“5/10 or betta” defies easy categorization as Third Thought follow the path less traveled.