Nothing But Thieves have a killer record on their hands.
After a week or two of teasing snippets from their debut album, Nothing But Thieves have finally released their debut self-titled long-player. I say ‘finally’ because it’s been absolutely ages in the making. With 16 tracks on its roster, that’s perhaps not a surprise.
It’s been almost a year and half since we first brought NBT to your attention through this blog, back when they had only a few tracks online, including the stunning Graveyard Whistling. Back then, in early July 2014, we were given some glimmer of hope that the first album would be out by the end of that year, not least after they signed with RCA that same year. But here we are, zooming towards the end of 2015, and it has only just been allowed to run free.
After such a long wait, hopes were high that this wouldn’t be a dud release. It seemed impossible given the tracks that have been spilled in the many months leading to this week. Graveyard Whistling aside, NBT put out a number of other tracks that feature on the record, including Itch, Trip Switch (which made the FIFA 16 soundtrack), Emergency, Wake Up Call, Ban All The Music, with Honey Whiskey and If I Get High most recently. Some time ago, they also put out a beautiful live acoustic version of the haunting Lover, Please Stay.
It was easy to think maybe we wouldn’t have much left to listen to, but with 16 tracks available, thankfully there is plenty of fresh tunes to get stuck into. Believe me when I say, also, that many of them are breathtakingly good.
NBT’s sound is largely built around the vocals of unassuming frontman Conor Mason. We compared him to Thom Yorke, Chet Faker, Erik Hassle, and Jeff Buckley previously. Those comparisons remain valid. His contribution to this record is extraordinary. The emotional output is off the charts. One can only imagine the toll it takes on him. I have visions of him collapsed in a corner of the studio after every take, a sweat-soaked heap of angst and trauma. If you’re familiar with Mason’s methods, you’ll know what I mean. This kid doesn’t just sing, he invests everything.
The other members of course play their part, too. The compositions are solid, varied, interesting and complex, while allowing you room to move and shake as you desire. There are hooks here and there, but the straight pop structure is not the method chosen by these guys. Having been selected to join Muse as an opening act on the road recently, that much is clear.
At times they’re freely blasting out rocking jams, Mason’s voice soaring like a jet fighter above it all. Moments later, you could be dropped into the most delicate lullaby. The overall effect is pretty special.
The standout tracks are numerous here. Other than those already mentioned, Tempt You (Evocatio) is perhaps among the very best. While lyrically, it’s perhaps slightly simplistic, musically it’s rich with beauty, building superbly from a soft soulful groove into a dynamic denouement. Brilliant stuff.
The opening track, Excuse Me , couldn’t have been better selected. It showcases everything this band is about and gets things off to a rollicking start.
Nothing But Thieves is available from all the usual digital outlets. I might get myself a vinyl copy of it, too, because it really is very, very good.