Since first forming in 2014, New York trio THICK have triumphed at turning the harshest truths into wildly exhilarating punk songs. On their second album Happy Now, vocalist/guitarist Nikki Sisti, vocalist/bassist Kate Black, and vocalist/drummer Shari Page deliver their most complex and confessional work yet, exploring everything from self-sabotage and insecurity to victim-blaming and destructive relationships. Raw, irreverent, and brutally honest, Happy Now ultimately offers both joyful catharsis and much-needed instruction for living well in turbulent times.
“Most of our songs lean toward optimism, even when there’s a lot of pain in them,” says Sisti, who refers to THICK’s output as a “living diary.” “It’s not about toxic positivity or trying to force yourself into happiness; it’s about recognizing that it’s okay to feel a whole spectrum of emotions, and then getting to the other side and really growing from your experiences.”
The follow-up to 5 Years Behind (a 2020 release praised by Under the Rader as a “dazzling debut album…laced with anger, humor, killer guitar riffs, and soaring punk melodies”), Happy Now finds THICK working again with producer Joel Hamilton (Iggy Pop, Juiceboxxx) and recording at Studio G Brooklyn. In a profound evolution of their previous work, the 11-track album encompasses sharper arrangements and stickier hooks and a more explosive energy—an effect often achieved through the sheer force of their three voices singing in unstoppable unison.
Kicking off with a glorious bang, Happy Now opens on the frenetic urgency of “Happiness”: a dizzying yet incisive track that sets THICK’s self-reflection to a fantastically breakneck rhythm. “That song’s about the different ways we seek validation, and how whether you look for it externally or internally, it’s never an easy process,” says Black. “In the end, it’s about being more aware of where we’re trying to find happiness.” With its brilliant back-and-forth between riotous shouting and impossibly sweet harmonies, “Loser” arrives as a thrilling celebration of hopeless imperfection, cleverly twisting its closing lyric into an unlikely mantra (“I’ll always be a loser”). “Especially in music, it’s so easy to feel like a loser and a fuck-up,” says Page. “We want people to know that it’s okay to mess up and that everyone’s a loser sometimes. It’s really the best way to live, instead of trying to be number-one all the time.” And on “Tell Myself,” Happy Now slips into a wistful mood as THICK tenderly impart insight to their younger selves. “As you get older, you sometimes look at your little-kid self and wish you could give them a hug and tell them everything’s going to be okay,” says Black. “It’s not about minimizing life experiences, but a reminder that you’re stronger than you think and that—despite what it feels like in the moment—there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
True to the egalitarian spirit of the band, THICK take a highly collaborative approach to their songwriting without ever sacrificing the intimacy of their lyrics. In the writing of the heavy-hearted “Disappear,” for instance, Sisti lifted directly from her journal in telling the story of “loving someone who gets lost in their own head, and how painful that can be.” Meanwhile, on “Her Chapstick,” Page opens up about a struggle in her own relationship. “It has to do with the experience of a partner seeking external affection,” she says. “It’s about navigating the feelings of why a partner is sharing themselves with someone else when you are right there.”
All New York State natives, THICK’s three members first crossed paths through shows at Brooklyn’s DIY/all-ages spaces and soon became a mainstay in that very scene. Since signing to Epitaph in 2018—and making their label debut with their self-titled third EP the following year—the band has dramatically expanded their reach and toured all over the country, including a 2021 run with punk legends Flogging Molly and Violent Femmes. But even as their fanbase grows exponentially, THICK thrive on forging an uncommonly close connection with their audience. “Getting to share our songs with new people and build community in places we’ve never been before has been the most fulfilling experience for us,” says Black. “We want to leave everyone smiling from ear to ear and get them moving around and hopefully look up at us and say, ‘Oh, I can do that. I’m gonna start my own band now.’”