The Thermals often get saddled with the "punk" tag, but that's a bit of a misnomer. Sure, the band has plenty of buzzing, up-tempo anthems at their disposal, and they've been known to pair their high-energy sound with righteous political dissent, but they're not solely concerned with smashing the system. Actually, the Thermals don't sound like they want to smash anything; even their angriest material is rooted in introspection and a genuine desire to improve the state of the world. Likewise, every album since their 2004 breakthrough has been increasingly intimate (even going so far as to call their newest release Personal Life), which makes their effortless, infectious hooks sound more like three-dimensional pop than three-chord punk. But regardless of which genre the band falls into, it's impossible to deny their passion, which comes across whether they're writing songs about the president or their paramours. Perhaps the most un-punk thing about the band is that they care, but you might not notice until your ears have stopped ringing. With Cymbals Eat Guitars. 18+.
Thu., Sept. 30, 8 p.m., 2010