Few Bush-bashing rock albums confronted the president’s legacy of dumbfuckery as directly or poetically as 2006’s The Body, the Blood, the Machine, but the Thermals’ follow-up finds the Thermals living in the New Hope era, sort of. Opener “When I Died” faces an afterlife as confusing and unstructured as our own existence with an apathetic acceptance that borders on nihilism. Frontman Hutch Harris’s now-deceased narrator greets his own mortality with “Nature sure took its sweet time. I was already losing my spine.” Lead single “Now We Can See” proclaims an end to humanity’s pointless violence and hatred with a cheery “oh way oh whoa” chorus, but Harris sounds happiest when he gloats “we don’t have to admit we were wrong.” Now We Can See also features the duo (they’ve since added a drummer, but bassist Kathy Foster was once again behind the kit in the studio) at its most, playful. High-energy “whoos” add exclamation points to pop- punk power chords, and the brief knob twiddling in “We Were Sick” and the noisy outro capping otherwise tranquil “At the Bottom of the Sea” are about as experimental as we’ve heard the Thermals get.