As the needle drops on the latest from the Bay Area’s sonically imaginative journey that is Thunderegg I’m met with a wave of nostalgia. Not for some “vintage San Francisco” sound, but perhaps the sense of ever-forward motion of life for the band that has created a cult-like underground following over the last decade-plus. Perhaps it is the twelve-by-twelve piece of artwork I hold in my hands as the I’m met with an overwhelming sense of reflection as we shift into the waves of sound, only bolstered by the direction Thunderegg has taken with their latest, Helicopters.
Just as the record sleeve would lead us to believe, there is a weighty approach to Thunderegg’s latest coming too naturally given the four years since the last release. The artwork by Aman Chaudhary, a warming happiness found in a concrete jungle, paired with the audio pouring over us reminds me of an art piece where a father fills the holes in a child by giving him pieces of himself. It is a sense of giving without asking for anything in return, but being paid in moments and memories. Though not entirely altruistic, the record holds lyrical contradictions and awareness to heart as each track develops. For instance, the lead track “That’s When the Helicopters Came” sings “How does a boy who noticed everything become a man who just forgets, almost as if the wisdom from remembering means less than having no regrets?” or in “My Own Old Man” where we find “I wanna be my own deity. All I’d have to do is just believe in me.” It is the experience of Helicopters on record, in physical medium, that elevates the experience of Thunderegg and the record on the whole.
Helicopters joins the illustrious list of successful Thunderegg records and is a fine follow up to 2018’s Cosmos. Balancing acoustic with digital, playing to the forefront and background with experienced precision, Helicopters echoes in the silence it creates with experienced sleight of hand making Thunderegg’s sound less about identifying who they are and more about continuing to develop on their own self-awareness. Like an upper-classman in the school of independent rock, Thunderegg’s Helicopters is a demonstration in knowing one’s self and an education in how to take the right chances with your sound. Selflessly, this is a record that makes no false postures and succeeds in a rich honesty lyrically and instrumentally.