April 17, 2019 Stealing Sheep – Big Wows (Album Review)
Formed back in 2010, Liverpool, England band Stealing Sheep are set to return with their third album, Big Wows, on Friday, April 19, 2019 through Heavenly Recordings. A trio consisting of Rebecca Hawley (vocals/keyboards), Emily Lansley (vocals/guitar), and Lucy Mercer (vocals/drums), just as the their debut and sophomore albums—2012’s Into the Diamond Sun and 2015’s Not Real— both wowed the Indie music scene because of their diverse, structured, organic, and textured sound, the forthcoming Big Wows is sure to generate the same effect.
Continuing Stealing Sheep’s propensity for melody and dance-ability, for Big Wows, the ladies worked with various producers including Marta Salogni (Bjork, MIA, Factory Floor), Andy Smith (Years & Years), Ash Workman (Christine & The Queens, Metronomy) and Joe Wills (video artist for Little Dragon) looking to for the best way to achieve what they wanted with the new songs. Adding another dimension to it all, they also teamed up with 8–bit Video Artist Pastel Castle (Emily Garner) who created a Karaoke video series for the album.
Eleven tracks in total, including the hidden “Heartbeats,” the album opens with the flickering and shimmering “Show Love.” The synthbass-led groove then pulsates into the ensuing “Back in Time,” which exudes echoes of early Depeche Mode (“The Meaning of Love”). Smoothly, “Joking Me” builds up on this Synthpop energy, enticing the listener to tap his feet towards the center of the dance floor. By this time, the initiated will have surely entertained sonic images of New Order (“Blue Monday”), Kon Kan (“Harry Houdini”), Anything Box (“Living in Oblivion”), Red Flag (“Russian Radio”), and other pioneers of the genre.
The mood shifts even higher, as “Why Haven’t I?” bounces and cascades with its Disco/Indie/Baggy sensibilities. The following “Girl” pumps the same pulses but exudes an unmissable Caribbean Lambada beat. Aptly titled, “Just Dreaming” is spacey and dreamy—a trek into Dreampop/Trance combo. The title-track and “Breathe” then seamlessly build on this Space Pop trip, albeit in a more playful and tuneful hip.
The penultimate track, the percussive-laden “True Colours,” is a bit experimental—if there is such a subgenre as Synth/Worldbeat, then this a perfect example. Finally, Stealing Sheep closes Big Wows aptly with the Oriental-inspired “Choose like You,” making it befitting a playlist of similarly styled Synthpop songs like “Synth Love” by Igo, “Art-Mania” by P-Model, “La Femme Chinoise” by Yellow Magic Orchestra, and “Big in Japan” by Alphaville.
Stealing Sheep has been a purveyor of Experimental Pop for the current generation of Indie music lovers. That in mind, Big Wows is yet another gem that enthusiasts of Synthpop and Indie Pop should add to their record collection. Additionally, they have a handful of shows through the end of April into May in the UK, so it should be fun see them perform the new material. For all these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives their new album 4 out of 5 stars.