2.5 out of 5 stars.
The band's second release on Island Records, A City By The Light Divided is more lo-fi than their Victory Records work. Singer Geoff Rickly has suddenly started singing more often than screaming (significantly obvious in "Sugar In The Sacrament") but the bang-crash of the drums and the fuzzy distortion of the guitars make it near-impossible to really appreciate the turn he's taken. It seems an effort to bring the music to the same focal level as the vocals, to add to the aural topography, but is at times quite frustrating. The backing vocals on one of the best tracks, "Running From The Rain," are almost louder than Rickly's own rather stirring sound.
Early in the album, the production change with David Fridmann is noticeable, but "Counting 5-4-3-2-1" is still a catchy single, and fans of previous Thursday records will be satisfied with both this and "The Other Side Of The Crash/Over And Out (Of Control)," the opening track.
The album is sonically intense, with a large focus on more intricate guitar work, as noted in the instrumental "Arc-Lamps, Signal Flares, A Shower Of White (The Light)," albeit briefly.
Among their peers, Thursday is ahead of the curve, if only because they are cherry-picking pieces of other, more influental artists. Overall, the vocals seek to be somewhere between the emotional wailing of The Cure's Robert Smith and the screaming agony of Deftones' Chino Moreno. The most impressive guitar layering only lasts for about 15 seconds.