When Portland garage rockers the Shivas formed in 2006, they were teenage kids who sometimes had a hard time getting into bars to play their own shows. Undeterred, the band prolifically toured and recorded nonstop for the next decade and beyond, working with esteemed labels like K Records and Burger as their surf- and punk-edged rock sound took shape. Dark Thoughts finds the band fully grown into their fuzzy and furious style, and the songs here expand into a sinister, overblown atmosphere. The basic elements are still rooted in '60s garage and proto-punk. Rippers like "Can't Relax" and the burning "Gloria" trade in stomping drums and walls of heavy guitar, blasting out with the same dazed, humid energy of the Stooges' Fun House. Surf riffs guide the sultry "Turn Me On," and when the Shivas slow down on album highlight "If You See Me" (sung by drummer Kristin Leonard), they switch gears for a reverb-heavy soul ballad that mixes Red Bird Records-styled girl group melodrama with an undercurrent of spooky uneasiness. It's a tuneful, traditional number that quickly gets buried in a cloud of smoke from the next song, the buzzing rocker "Start a Fire." They bring back the sock-hop vibes for the naïvely melodic "I Want You" and take a side step into psychedelic pop in the intro of "Feels Surreal" before melting into high-potency surfy rocking. The Shivas stick to their formula of retro rock styles on Dark Thoughts, but they turn up the volume and tighten the reins on every song, resulting in their sharpest album to date. The music vibrates at a higher frequency, relaying the Shivas' dark thoughts at full blast through busted megaphone production and inspired performances.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas