TORRES: Thirstier (Merge) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, October 17th, 2021  




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MacKenzie Scott, the mercurial creative behind TORRES, was seemingly on the cusp of a breakthrough in 2017 with her third full-length album Three Futures, and a promising record deal with 4AD. Yet, despite the acclaim the record garnered, Scott was unceremoniously dropped as the record underperformed commercially. Her reintroduction with 2020’s Silver Tongue (and her first release for Merge), though lush and evocative musically, was equally tumultuous lyrically, chronicling the rocky narrative arc of her relationship in layered art pop.

Yet, after all those struggles, she’s found herself in 2021 with a surprising measure of peace. “I’ve been conjuring this deep, deep joy that I honestly didn’t feel for most of my life,” she says. “I feel like a rock within myself.” So after years of tumult and struggle, what does peace sound like for Scott? In the case of Thirstier, it is loud and unabashed, soaked in distortion-laden theatrics, massive hooks, and unquenchable restless joy.

That shift was foreshadowed from the very first single, “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head.” As an unashamed lover of bright and thundering pop songs, the track caught my ear like no other TORRES song had yet, delivering possibly her most instantly memorable hook via glorious sparkling indie rock. “Hug From a Dinosaur” mines a similar, instantaneously catchy vein, with added pounding piano and handclaps bringing power pop aesthetics into the mix.

Though her approach is more direct and hook-laden on Thirstier, Scott also remains as ambitious sonically as ever. “Are You Sleepwalking?” and the standout title track are explosive grungy showcases for Scott, transitioning effortlessly between tightly wired verses and massive thundering choruses on the former and conjuring invigorating gnarled sonics on the latter. Later in the record Scott explores more electronic textures, as with the jittery looping dance rhythms of “Kiss the Corners” or the squealing industrial closer, “Keep the Devil Out.”

Scott charges around aesthetic left turns, pulling the record in new directions as she follows each new experimental detour. The core force keeping the record cohesive is Scott herself. In her hands, each song demands rapt attention. Even “Big Leap,” the record’s most sparse cut, makes ample use of its spacious aesthetics and pinpoint sharp melody to create dramatic power out of the negative space.

Amidst all that intensity, it’s an impressive feat for Scott to rise above the din. But she does, helped in no small part by the evident enduring joy she’s found in her life. Many of the songs dwell on her relationship but, less the dramatic arcs of infatuation, betrayal, and reunion and more in everyday enduring commitment. “Hug From a Dinosaur’’ turns the simple act of bringing your partner lunch into reflection on a cosmic eternal love, with Scott singing “Lord, girl, you’re the best of all possible worlds/ Before my wild happiness who was I if not yours?” Meanwhile, the muscular guitar lines on “Drive Me” accompany feverish declarations of devotion一“I know this much is true/There’re so few like you/Sweeter than juice/Better than a muse/Burns slower than a fuse.”

“The more of you I drink, the thirstier I get,” Scott confesses on the title track. The line is a sharp encapsulation of what makes Thirstier so potent. Following her label woes, rocky relationship patches, and a year of a devastating worldwide pandemic, Scott has found herself finally in a place of hard-won contentment and the record is both a document and celebration of that peace, delivered with palpable delight. It is the most hungry and explosive Scott has ever sounded, blowing her style into a magical fantasia of instrumental bombast and delirious joy. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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