Vocalist Geoff Rickly comments on the album's intent:
I think it was, "How do we keep the urgency and the excitement of what Thursday's doing?", which to me has always been a chemistry kind of thing, like the way the band fits together and pops into place and stuff. How do we do that but make it more multi-dimensional? We didn't focus at all. We put anything we were mildly interested in there and said, "Let's juxtapose this into the mix." So we ended up with big sort of ballads that were almost like U2 and some grindcore stuff and some really blasty, screamy shit, and other stuff...I would love to leave some sort of legacy. But I just want to get to a place where we're not living or dying by the trends. There's a few bands in every genre that don't leave the genre, don't say "we're not doing this anymore" but kind of outlast it. I would really like to be the Sonic Youth of our scene. That would be really rad.
Prior to the album's release, in Fall 2005, five Thursday demo songs were stolen from My American Heart's tour manager's iPod. Rickly had recently collaborated with My American Heart on the track "We Are the Fabrication" for their album The Meaning in Makeup. The band issued a statement on their official website stating that they were disappointed the unfinished products leaked, but that they were glad that people took that much interest in their music. The band confirmed the title of one demo, "At This Velocity" and promised it would make their upcoming album. Three other songs ("The Other Side of the Crash/Over and Out (Of Control)", "Telegraph Avenue Kiss", and "Autumn Leaves Revisited") would also make the album; the demo versions of these songs are quite different. One more demo song had not been released until recently, in the form of "Last Call" from the band's fifth album, Common Existence.
On February 6, 2006, A City by the Light Divided was announced for release. "Counting 5-4-3-2-1" was made available for streaming on February 28. From mid March to the beginning of April, the band went on the first leg of the Shirts for a Cure tour, with support from Minus the Bear, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, and We're All Broken. On March 29, "At This Velocity" was made available for streaming via Alternative Press. For most of April, the band went on the 2006 edition of the Taste of Chaos tour. However, on April 13, Rickly became ill, resulting in the band dropping off the tour. On April 18, A City by the Light Divided was made available for streaming via the band's Myspace profile, and "Counting 1-2-3-4-5" was released to radio.
From late April to late May, the band went on the second leg of the Shirts for a Cure tour, with support from Minus the Bear, mewithoutYou and We're All Broken. A City by the Light Divided was released on May 2 through Island. The band went on the 2006 edition of Warped Tour. In October and November, the group went on the 2006 international edition of the Taste of Chaos tour, visiting New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. In between dates on this tour, the band went on a co-headlining tour with Rise Against. In January and February 2007, the band went on a tour of the U.S. with support from Fear Before the March of Flames, Murder by Death and Heavy Heavy Low Low.
On March 27, it was announced that the band had left Island. The group called it "a difficult decision" that "took us the better part of six months to come to an agreement" with the label. For the remainder of March, the band toured with My Chemical Romance in the UK. The band planned to tour across Europe, and a North American tour with My Chemical Romance over the course of the next two months. However, on April 2, the band announced they had cancelled their remaining tour dates. The group explained: "We recently got a second chance to start this band over fresh and we don't plan on wasting that chance."
The album so far has a score of 75 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "generally favorable reviews". AbsolutePunk gave it a score of 90% and said that " just like the Buffalo Bills, it’s not about how you start the game, but about how strong you can comeback and finish, and A City By The Light Divided exemplifies this very well." Blender gave it a score of four stars out of five and called it "A widescreen goth-punk stunner." Billboard gave it a positive review and called it "A quality album." Some reviews are average or mixed: Uncut gave it three stars out of five and said, "A sprinkle of Flaming Lips fairy-dust may be just what the genre needs to slip its genre straitjacket." Melodic.net also gave it a score of three stars out of five and said it was "not a superb album but it's a helluva lot better than War All the Time."
It reached #20 on the Billboard 200. A month after its release, the album had sold over 81,000 copies.
All lyrics written by Geoff Rickly; all music composed by Thursday.Bonus tracks