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Nothing But Thieves

Magpies of English alt-rock/dance or just naïve plagiarists encompassing a spectrum of genres, the well-named NOTHING BUT THIEVES take shelter under a shape-shifting array of pop-up umbrellas. No doubting the talent of these budding 21st century schizoid musicians (led by adaptable singer Conor Mason), one imagines blindly earworming a “rock” night on the X Factor – if only. One minute MUSE or PJ HARVEY – tinted with RED HOT CHILI rhythm – on tracks `Excuse Me’ and `Ban All The Music’ respectively, the next a DARKNESS/Justin Hawkins howl for `Itch’, it all appeared fine and dandy on their eponymous debut set, NOTHING BUT THIEVES (2015) {*8}.
Coming three years on from their formation in 2012, the Southend-on-Sea lads of young Conor (plus guitarists Joe Langridge-Brown and Dom Craik, bassist Philip Blake and drummer James Price) worked hard to win plaudits from the likes of Radio 1, NME and propping up a plethora of European festivals. Inking a deal at Sony/RCA Records, support slots to TWIN ATLANTIC, ARCADE FIRE and, ultimately, MUSE, advance orders of their first album guaranteed it a place in the Top 10. Comprising career-boosting early download singles, `Lover, Please Stay’ (think ADELE or SAM SMITH) and `Graveyard Whistling’, part two of the record showed a softer, sophisticated side to crooner Conor and Co, despite the no-holds-barred pure punk of `Painkiller’. Stop them if you’ve heard it all before – no chance!
However hard it would be to shake off any comparisons to MUSE, or even RADIOHEAD, NOTHING BUT THIEVES dispatched their sophomore set in September 2017. Entitled BROKEN MACHINE {*8}, the record gate-crashed the Top 3 on the strength of lead single, `Sorry’. Other tracks such as `Amsterdam’, the uplifting `Soda’ and the part-rapping `Live Like Animals’, also became immediate fan faves for a band that surely deserved to be bigger in America. The following spring, a limited-edition 7-inch revealed covers of GNARLS BARKLEY’s `Crazy’ and JEFF BUCKLEY’s `Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’.
© MC Strong/MCS Oct2015-Apr2018

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