The music on the Thermals' first four records has been relatively straightforward — fleshy power chords, wiry bass, and the kind of sing-talking that encourages shouting along — but their themes have been a bit more complex (2006's The Body, the Blood, the Machine was a concept album about a couple fleeing a fascist U.S. government). The Portland, Oregon trio covers a less clunky and more universal subject on Personal Life: the struggles and triumphs of a romantic relationship. It's a familiar theme in music, but the band's infectious post-pop cuts to the heart of the topic in songs like "Never Listen to Me," "Your Love Is So Strong," and "I Don't Believe You." Personal Life starts with "I'm Gonna Change Your Life" and ends with "You Changed My Life." Everything in between fills you in on all you need to know about the transformative power of love. — Danielle Sills
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