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After experimenting with its sound, Thursday returns to rawness of earlier efforts

The album was called "Full Collapse," and it would portend the opposite of what its title implied.

The 2001 sophomore release from post-punk agitant Thursday sounded like a call to arms: Frontman Geoff Rickly swung like a sweaty pendulum between vehemence and vulnerability via a pained whelp that sounded as if he was singing barefoot atop a mound of broken glass.

"I don’t want to feel this way forever," he testified on the album’s breakout single, "Understanding in a Car Crash." "A dead letter marked return to sender."

Over cresting guitars and triumphant-sounding, arms-in-the-air choruses, the band quickly became the new face of the sensitive side of the Warped Tour ranks, its tunes confessional and cathartic, punk’s soft, emotional underbelly outfitted with a hard outer shell.

Soon, Thursday was being courted by various major labels who saw the band as the new flag bearers for the disenchanted, disaffected iGeneration.

"There was a time right after ‘Full Collapse’ where we had gained our audience, but then there were people who were like, ‘Oh, they’re going to be this next big thing,’ " drummer Tucker Rule recalls, sounding relieved that the moment has passed. "That was when it was really hard, really strange. The expectations were unreal. We were never going to be that band."

But they did give it a good try.

The band released a pair of solid-selling albums on major label Island Records, the second of which, 2006’s "A City By the Light Divided," saw Thursday pushing hard against the bounds of its sound, incorporating lots of texture and atmosphere in the form of ashen synth lines and an undercurrent of electronics.

The band strayed a bit from the visceral, heart-in-the-throat bloodletting that once defined it.

On their new disc, "Common Existence," released earlier this week, they sought a return to the immediacy of some of their earlier efforts.

"We knew that on ‘A City By the Light Divided,’ we went in a really weird direction, doing a lot of experimenting," Rule says. "I feel like on this record, we still wanted to have that experimental vibe, but we also wanted to reach back to the old, old days of Thursday, when everything was very immediate, in your face, but melodic. We wanted to capture that raw thing that we had a long time ago, when we were young kids writing music."

The disc does pulse with a youthful willfulness and a just-guzzled-a-case-of-Red Bull adrenaline burst.

"I was dead, now I’m back to life," Rickly sings on the first single, "Resuscitation of a Dead Man," a reinvigorated rebel yell that’s as business-minded and to-the-point as a bullet fired from a gun.

The album still has plenty of the digital flourishes of its predecessor — like "City," it’s a good headphones record with a very detailed mix full of little sprinkles of sound tucked away around this corner or the next — but it’s also a more heated, confrontational disc where the band attempts to grab listeners directly by the throat.

A large part of this new infusion of energy is attributable to the band’s returning to the indie ranks by signing with veteran punk label Epitaph Records.

"The label started out D.I.Y., and it still is that way," Rule notes. "There’s a sense of community and an understanding of everybody moving together towards one thing. If you’re on a major label, they may have an agenda, but it’s all about money and moving units, as they say. This is more about understanding that, ‘Hey, this band may not be huge, but they do have a following.’ "

Clearly, then, this bunch feels like underdogs again, and this pays dividends on "Existence." They seem less concerned with the promise of tomorrow and more fixated on the struggles of today.

They’re no longer kids — though they’re trying harder than ever to reach them.

"Most of us are over 30 now, so we’re not the young band anymore, we’re not the young kids on the block," Rule says. "We have that mentality that we want to come in and prove that we have the energy, that we can come back and be a constant for young people to older people. It’s time for us to come back in and do what we do."

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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