Although initially a leading light in the screamo/post-hardcore scene, Thursday began to transcend that movement in 2006, when A City by the Light Divided introduced an emphasis on dynamics and melodic nuance to the band's sound. Three years later, Thursday continue to buck trends with Common Existence, another melody-focused album cut with longtime Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann. Common Existence bears some trademarks of the band's classic screamo assault, but those aspects pale in comparison to Fridmann's own contributions, which help replicate the massive, multi-layered production found on his recent projects (including MGMT's Oracular Spectacular and Longwave's Secrets Are Sinister). Keyboardist Andrew Everding plays a key role here, his synthesized chords laying a gauzy framework for many songs, while frontman Geoff Rickly shows a good deal of restraint as he emphasizes singing over screaming. His voice sounds downright epic during "Circuits of Fire," where alternating time signatures and walls of guitar distortion find some middle ground between Brit-pop, emo, and (bizarrely enough) the anthemic prog of Dream Theater. Elsewhere, "Time's Arrow" pairs booming snare hits with ethereal harmonies, while songs like "Resuscitation of a Dead Man" and "Last Call" throw a bone to fans of the band's earlier work. In keeping with Thursday's evolution into a fierce alternative rock group, Common Existence is a somewhat streamlined release, with Rickly's screaming vocals only serving to punctuate the brief moments between more melodic segments. Critics of A City by the Light Divided will surely find fault with this album, but Common Existence is largely an enjoyable record that gives as much attention to mood and melody as muscle and might.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey