Dork rock is a thing, and it’s older than you might believe. Weezer is often cited as the kings of the dork for their anti-macho, angsty-yet-poppy-as-can-be approach, and the fashion choices certainly help push the notion.
For Oneonta, NY natives, The Thirds, dorkiness is a way of life. On their new EP, they’ve taken the essential elements of Weezer and further inspiration from the mightiest slop-guitar heroes of the 90s. Dinosaur Jr and Pavement are coated all over this record, and you could rarely find a more appropriate style to back such self-deprecating and sometimes self-hating lyrics:
“The familiar stench of failure and self-doubt”, “I’m a flagrant waste of carbon”, “Suffocating insignificance…” as a few samples of the self-conscious misery.
The Thirds’ guitars are drenched in swampy, grungey fuzz tones and retain the loose feel reminiscent of many a slack-rocker. The solo on ‘Statute of Limitations’ is a real treat; it doesn’t care that it lacks refined technique, the gain overload and nervous wah pedal work perfectly encapsulate the frustrated and anxious feelings written all over the track.
But great technique is not amiss on this EP. The rhythm duo are tight and brimming with ideas. Case in point: ‘Antimatter’ – the bass work here is phenomenal. Well-timed climbs and slides add nuance and harmonic complexity to the nifty chord progression. Syncopated beats, smooth hats, and snare rolls tally back and forth with a straightforward beat, never letting the piece settle on anything consistent – the tension never resolves.
The two sound collage pieces that buffer the EP are unexpected highlights. Once you get a feel for the mixture of dark humour, apathy, and frustration on offer, this pair of short experiments seem more like tongue-in-cheek expressions of boredom and emptiness.
The Thirds’ Dork Matter is a down-to-earth, funny though relatably miserable at points, and raucous EP. Definitely worth a listen if you’re a 90s kid at heart.