February 3, 2016 Nothing But Thieves – Nothing But Thieves (Album Review)
Surging forth into the music scene, Nothing But Thieves shatters standards and expectations with their unique and experimental style. Switching between high-energy Rock and a sultry Blues sound, their music cuts to the core with their originality. Fronted by male countertenor, they bring a fresh musical style to the scene while raising the bar.
Nothing But Thieves’ origins began in Essex, England in the borough of Southend-on-Sea when Vocalist Conor Mason met Guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown. Upon their first meeting, they knew that they should work together and meld their musical talents. A few years later, Dom Craik brought his guitar, keyboards, and his cousin – Bassist Phil Blake – into the fold. The lineup was complete when Drummer James Price, an old friend, joined the group. Thus, Nothing But Thieves came into existence.
After a trip to the United States in 2012, the experience led the quintet to an epiphany. They decided to forge their own musical path and possessed the moxie to make their goal a reality. Unlike many other bands who kept trying to get their names out there with gig after gig , while honing their musical talents with formulaic styles, the quintet secreted themselves away for a period of time. When they emerged from their seclusion, they stunned listeners with their unique and shifting style.
Shortly after their trip, they released their first EP, If You Don’t Believe, It Can’t Hurt You, in 2013. Signing on with RCA Records in 2014, they quickly released their next EP, Graveyard Whistling, that year, as well as another EP, Ban All The Music, in 2015. Keeping up the momentum, Nothing But Thieves released multiple chart-topping singles and performed in several shows with other bands like AWOLNATION and Arcade Fire. Their popularity on the rise, their tours have sold out. Then, their self-titled debut album, Nothing But Thieves, was released in the UK on October, 16, 2015, and now it will be released in the US on February 5, 2016 via RCA Records. An anticipated release, their debut contains several of their singles and some newer songs showcasing their broad and adventurous musical talents. The result, an album that shows that these guys are not afraid to mix it up and experiment with their music.
Beginning the album is “Excuse Me” with the soft sound of Langridge-Brown’s guitar and Price on drums, backed by Craik on keyboards and Blake on bass. Conor’s vocals manifest with a steady sound that quickly changes to haunting wails that crawl into the back of the mind while also giving a taste of his vocal talents. Kicking things up a few notches with a galloping guitar riffs and rocking drumbeats, “Ban All The Music” is energetic Rock music. This track features the amazing guitar play of Langridge-Brown and Craik, Price blasting away on the drums, and Blake showcasing his wicked talent with bass. The result is a sound with a defiant attitude that refuses to conform to any standards. Blake and Price keep up the tempo in “Wake Up Call.” With flowing lyrics, Conor lures in the listener with vocals that fuses flawlessly with the dropped beats and Rock guitar riffs.
Taking matters in a different direction, “Itch” showcases Craik and Langridge-Brown in a darker tone as Conor lets loose with lyrics and vocals that flow like water before he switches up with a wail. Bringing things down from the energetic high of the previous tracks, “If I Get High” leaves the listener with a soporiferous sound that is relaxing. Mellow melodies mixed with soft, sorrowful vocals leave a soothing melancholy piece. Then, one of the songs from previous EP’s, “Graveyard Whistling” continues on with the soulful sound of the previous song with somber lows that contain energetic bursts.
Conor’s hauntingly ethereal wailing introduces “Hostage.” In this track, the band’s trademark style returns in this piece. With smooth-flowing lyrics and edgy Alt-Rock music, Conor puts on display his countertenor talents and broad vocal range. Belting out the lyrics, Conor brings back the energy levels. Backed by the musical fusion, the lyrics are image evoking. Moving right along, Price grabs the attention with a quick drumbeat as Conor draws us in with his airy vocals in “Trip Switch.” With a sound that is explosive, dynamic, and unable to be contained, this song captures the essence of the band’s mercurial style. Then, Craik shares his diverse talent as he returns to keyboards in “Lover, Please Stay” as Conor serenades listeners. Showing they are a band oozing with talent, Blake comes to the fore with a steady bass in “Drawing Pins.” Crunchy guitar and drums pick things back up with explosive energy, Blake’s bass continues to remain at the forefront of this energetic and edgy piece.
Keeping the energy high throughout, “Painkiller” has a rocking tempo that will get the blood flowing while it redoubles the energy of the previous track. Conor’s vocals meshes well with the rest of the quintet, an impressive fusion of talent. If there ever was a seductively smooth song, “Tempt You (Evocatio)” would be it. Between Craik keeping the tempo on keyboards and Conor’s ethereal vocals, they create a sound filled with a sultry ambience that sends chills up the spine. As the lyrics trickle out, Blake, Price, and Langridge-Brown subtly make their presence known. The lyrics to this piece are absolutely amazing. Meshed with the sensual fusion of vocals and music, this song creates a seductive sound that is captivating.
On the deluxe version, bringing the energy level down a few notches, “Six Billion” comes next, while still pulling at the emotional strings. Through the peaks and valleys, Langridge-Brown’s guitar, backed by Blake’s bass, features prominently in “Neon Brother.” With steady rhythms, spikes of high energy, slowly building tempo higher and higher the track finishes things off with a high-voltage crescendo. Then, heavy bass and drums open up “Hanging” with crunchy edge, Rock guitar riffs. Here, the band lends their vocal support to Conor’s smokiness, creating an amazing sound. Finally, “Honey Whiskey” carries the momentum forward. The haunting wails and the switching, swerving sound wrap up the album and bring the listener’s audial journey to an end.
As a debut album, Nothing But Thieves pushes the envelope and defies normal convention with what they bring to the table; a feat that newer bands find daunting to pull off. Nothing But Thieves contains sixteen tracks at approximately fifty-five minutes. With a fresh and original style that engages the audience, the band takes the listener on an emotional and energetic roller coaster. Containing lyrics that are linguistically thought-provoking, captivating vocals, and unique musical styles, Nothing But Thieves’ debut album is one that is worth checking out. CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.