Nothing but Thieves, Nothing but Thieves, 2015, RCA
Ban All the Music
Wake Up Call
If I Get High
Lover, Please Stay
Tempt You (Evocatio)
Having formed in the seaside town of Southend in Essex in 2012, this was the alt-rockers debut album.
It starts with a Radiohead vibe on the suspenseful Excuse Me which has a really great beat when the chorus kicks in. It shows off singer Conor Mason’s impressively versatile voice too. "Ban All the Music" has a great guitar riff and the track as a whole is upbeat and fun with a dash of Americana. Despite its melancholy lyrics "Wake Up Call "makes you want to move, the rhythm section sound great on it and it’s catchy too. "Itch", with it’s heavy drums, distorted guitar sound and soaring chorus is the obvious standout single choice. There are even some “Ooh ooh oohs” to keep it mainstream. "If I Get High" leads us into the ballad section of the album. For me it’s a bit too depressing and predictable, but it’s a technically well crafted song and Mason’s voice is incredible, so if you like a ballad, you’ll enjoy it. "Graveyard Whistling" continues the slowed down softness. Although the lyrics are interesting, it’s very poppy (I imagined the band standing up from stools during the key change, it’s that poppy) and for me feels a bit out of place here. I understand the desire to show a bit of range on a debut but I really just want to rock out. "Hostage" is something completely different. With an electronic sound and a fast, catchy melody it feels like a much cooler way to inject something fresh into the album at the midpoint than the two previous tracks. "Trip Switch", a comment on our reliance on technology starts to bring things back to a rockier sound although it still includes some nice juxtaposition between the heavy and the soft. "Lover, Please Stay" is another ballad, this time stripped back and simple. "Drawing Pins" is a return to the rockier, fast then slow sound and it’s welcome. "Painkiller" is the most aggressive song and therefore probably my favourite track. I’d love to hear them do some more punky stuff as it works well. The album closes with "Tempt You (Evocatio)" and for me it’s a disappointment to hear them revert back to something so slow, even though it ends with a pretty epic flourish.
This felt like a really interesting debut album to me overall. There is quite a lot of variety in the songs, rather than blending together they stand out on their own although there is a definite Muse vibe throughout. The lyrics are interesting and probably what makes the band stand out from the crowd. I’m certain I’d enjoy them live and although I could happily ignore the slow numbers, there is more than enough on this album to warrant a second listen or at the very least a few additions to your regular playlist. While I can only say I truly loved half of the tracks, I was left feeling very optimistic and excited by the band. They are due to release their third album soon and I’ll certainly be listening.