2020 Ribbon Music (label)
15 May 2020 (released)
09 May 2020
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down return with the introspective new album Temple.
Quoted on diymag.com lead singer Thao Nguyen promised that “This record is about me finally being specific. If you listen to my music, I want you to know who you are dealing with.”
With themes of overcoming the challenge of legacy, preventing life from drifting by and loving in spite of personal baggage, that promise is delivered on.
The 10-track project sets its stall out early with the impressive title track.
Nguyen's parents are Vietnamese refugees and the song explores the American’s heritage and the pressure to build on that. The artist sings:
“I know your father can’t call anymore, he never meant to be a man of more, but we found freedom what will you do now, bury the burden baby make us proud ”.
It is a personal offering that sets the tone for the album. The story is captivating and immediately holds promise for the rest of the album.
With shades of The Beastie Boys ‘Phenom’ finds the protagonist scrapping and chloring her way in life, while ‘Lion on the Hunt’ has Nguyen boldly taking her slice of the equality pie. The lyrics are confident, assertive, and assured. The song proudly claims its place and has no time for second-rate treatment.
The production impresses throughout as the rock and blues sound helps power the record.
As well as displaying a fiery confidence Temple also displays a more reflective tender side.
‘Pure Cinema’ and ‘Marrow’ best exemplify the shift.
‘Pure Cinema’ for its part paints the protagonist’s passive life is something watched and not truly lived. ‘Marrow’ meanwhile serves as the album’s bookend and perhaps the start of the storyteller’s next chapter.
The front woman sings of having “grief in my marrow” and living “as a quiet apology”. The finale is a stark thank you to a lover who is supported the protagonist through the hardships and the struggles.
The singer may not feel worthy of the love and support she’s received, but after seemingly figuring her life out she pledges to “be good to us” and “was meant to defend us”.
Thematically, the listener would have heard this kind of thing before, but lyrically things feel just the right amount of quirky to prick up the ear.
Overall, Temple is an enjoyable experience which isn’t afraid to embrace the personal.