Nothing But Thieves

Nothing But Thieves

Written by: TL on 28/10/2015 12:34:30

The British quintet Nothing But Thieves has been building a considerable bit of momentum for a debuting band, having already supported established names like Arcade Fire, Twin Atlantic and Young Guns before even putting out their first album. An album is out now, though, titled simply "Nothing But Thieves", and here the band delivers a sound that sits somewhere between fellow British bands like Muse and Royal Blood. If we get straight to the case, though, the main reason you should listen to them is their vocalist Conor Mason, who demonstrates phenomenal control of a phenomenal voice, gliding back and forth between full voice and falsetto in truly seamless manner, and extending quivering notes that send shivers down the listener's spine (Think Jeff Buckley!)

The easiest way to sample this is to check out tracks five and six, "If I Get High" and "Graveyard Whistling", both of which figure as some of the mellower tracks of the new album. "If I Get High", in particular, puts the band's instrumental side in such a subtle and supportive role, that there's plenty of room for Mason show off his pipes, extending near operatic notes that figure to easily moist the undergarments of both men, women and children. As a song, though, "Graveyard Whistling" is arguably the best put together of any on the album, moving from part to part with an elegant sense of understatement, and with calmly swelling piano notes setting the most immersive atmosphere the album can boast of.

In contrast, "If I Get High" is actually pretty uneventful as a song, despite setting the stage so nicely for Mason to show what he can do. And that, regrettably, is very symptomatic for the album as a whole, as the band's instrumentation overall proves to be quite uninventive and lacking in energy and character. The comparisons to Muse and Royal Blood for instance, only work if you remove Muse's sci-fi- and progressive traits, and Royal Blood's self-imposed drum&bass dogma - But aren't those exactly what make those bands stand out? OK so they both write good songs, and the curious thing about "Nothing But Thieves" is that the songs on it are not forgettable, not at all. The songs on here are actually just catchy enough that you will recognise all of them almost immediately upon repeat listens. Yet none of them has that sweeping, engaging quality you recognise when you hear new music that really puts its spell on you.

Instead, Nothing But Thieves routinely feel much too neat, too rigid and too predictably, like a band that wants to create stylish, groovy rock, yet only has a very one-dimensional and unexciting idea of how to do so. Even when they try to get wild, like on "Ban All The Music" or "Hostage", the results simply sound weak, and it's hard to no want to switch directly over to Royal Blood for a more powerful expression of a similar thing. Listening to Nothing But Thieves simply often gets to feeling like having a conversation with a really good looking person who turns out to be thoroughly uninteresting to speak with.

Whether you get the standard 12 track version or the 16 track deluxe edition, these are pretty much the two sides to the coin that is "Nothing But Thieves": You get some decently catchy and groovy tracks, featuring some at times unusually extraordinary singing, but inevitably the group will sound less like the kind of inspiring new act we all hope to discover when checking out something new, and more like an only moderately enjoyable band, that needs to figure out whether they actually have a side to their expression that can give them longevity as more than harmless clothing store music. A bit of a frustrating listen then, though partly because of the obvious potential, coming especially from that spectacular voice.


Download: Graveyard Whistling, If I Get High Enough
For The Fans Of: Muse, Royal Blood, Coldplay, Kings Of Leon

Release date 16.10.2015
Sony Music UK

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