The commercial music industry is a competitive market and one which hundreds of bands battle to break into, many in vain. Every now and then, however, a British rock band seemingly appears from nowhere and hits the big time. Armed with the support of BBC Radio 1 and a legion of fans, Nothing But Thieves are the latest band to do just that with their self-titled début album.
Since their formation in 2012, the alternative rock band from Southend-On-Sea (Essex) have been on a steady upward pilgrimage. In addition to their three EPs released sporadically over the past two years, the band’s single ‘Itch’ was featured by Radio 1 as track of the day. They also landed support act slots on tours by the likes of Arcade Fire, George Ezra and Muse. Not bad for three years work.
Eponymous début album ‘Nothing But Thieves’ is undoubtedly one of the best alternative rock albums of recent years. Aided by lead singer Conor Mason’s haunting, ever-endearing vocals and an anthology of durable rock anthems, ‘Nothing But Thieves’ is a delectable album from start to finish.
The album aims to please from the outset but without a hint of desperation. The influences are clear – Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and U2 moments are littered throughout the sixteen track LP but avoid detracting from the band’s idiosyncratic sound. The Jeff Buckley-esque ‘Excuse Me’ is a killer opener to the album, on which haunting verses evolve into an epic chorus with an incredible vocal performance by Mason. Likewise, ‘Ban All The Music’ is abundant with belligerent guitar riffs whilst the riffs used in ‘Wake Up Call’ mimic those in Pink Floyd’s ‘Dogs’. ‘Trip Switch’, the single release which largely propelled the album features an enormous stadium-rock anthem chorus, utilising the trip switch metaphor to signify the end of a relationship. ‘Hostage’ is abundant with wailing guitars and a killer hook whilst the hook in ‘Honey Whiskey’ features almost operatic vocal moments.
Elsewhere, the band convey a softer side on ballads which punctuate the album beautifully. Mason’s falsetto drifts effortlessly over gentle guitar strums on ‘If I Get High’, a ballad reminiscent of Radiohead which builds to an extravagant climax. Likewise, ‘Graveyard Whistling’ conveys a vulnerability rarely found in contemporary music. ‘Lover Please Stay’, one of the album’s highlights, is a gorgeous acoustic ballad on which Mason uncannily resembles Jeff Buckley; his falsetto vocals fluttering gently over lamenting guitars. It’s a track which really showcases his superlative vocals; every note is aching with sincerity.
It’s an album impossible to pick holes in, one on which album fillers and weak material is noticeably absent. Every song from start to finish is exceptionally written and produced, from its profound lyrics to its huge choruses and catchy hooks. Nothing But Thieves have created a masterful stadium-ready album; an outstanding début.
Highlights: ‘Excuse Me’, ‘Trip Switch’, ‘If I Get High’, ‘Graveyard Whistling’, ‘Hostage’, ‘Lover, Please Stay’, ‘Hostage’.
‘Nothing But Thieves’ is available now on RCA Victor Records.