A review of Nothing But Thieves’ new album
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
Nothing But Thieves released Moral Panic on October 23, and while having heard most of the singles prior to the album release, I decided to review each song again having now heard the album as an entire work.
“Unperson” is a good song to start with. There’s a nice blend of hard guitars and vocals with an equal amount of softness to demonstrate the band’s range of sound. The breakdown is akin to Twenty-One Pilots’ “Heavydirtysoul” while maintaining an atmosphere similar to “People” by The 1975.
Is Everybody Going Crazy?
This one’s been out for seven months. It goes hard, and honestly, the message stands out fabulously. It came out pre-COVID and the lyrics feel like they predicted the pandemic, “Is anyone else feeling lonely? / It just can’t be me only / Losing our cool so slowly.”
I’ll probably say this for most of the tracks, but the vocals… wow. Just being immediately struck by Conor Mason’s larynx. The song is spacey and smooth, while having a distinct groovy undertone. Rainbow Kitten Surprise has this subtle flavour in most of their songs such as “Fever Pitch.” The switch up brings a more aggressive tone and sparks the energy for the next song on the album.
Real Love Song
“Real Love Song” was one of the singles released before the album drop, and for that I am grateful. This ballad is a beautiful, emotional masterpiece. It’s filled with deep heart ache, and the straightforward purity of, well, real love. Mason’s singing style is directly inspired by Jeff Buckley and it is very clear in this song in particular. The lyrics could have been corny had any other band tried (“This is a sad song, so sad”) but there’s a certain level of class to Nothing But Thieves that makes this song sound simply raw instead.
“Phobia” has a fun spooky atmosphere, which makes this the anthem for the album since it came out in October. There’s a very cool bass sweep that repeats in the beginning, which is special to “Phobia.” The song overall has a macabre atmosphere and is generally dark and airy—reminiscent of Billie Eilish’s music. And oh baby, that guitar compression.
This Feels Like the End
Drums coming in strong during the softer bits is unique. The vibe is similar to The 1975—a good anthem for late nights downtown messing around with friends. This song will be fun at a concert for sure. We finally hear the high-note vocal belt.
Free If We Want It
Slowing it down with a pretty ballad, “Free If We Want It” brings the long-awaited guitar solo. Vocal harmonies have a call and response, singing “Don’t look back! Keep going!” The desperation bleeds through the second half of the song. It’s quite clear at this point that the album is very personal.
“Impossible” lives in my mind rent-free. It is an overall intense and heart-wrenching love ballad. The chorus resonates pure hope in love, singing, “I could drown myself in someone like you / I could dive so deep I never come out / I thought it was impossible / But you make it possible.”
There Was Sun
“There Was Sun” is more electro than the rest of the songs on this album (and in Nothing But Thieves’ discography) which makes this one an outlier. Strangely reminiscent of The Weeknd’s tune “There Was Sun,” while not having anything jump out at me in this listen, is a good track to put on your driving playlist.
Can You Afford to Be An Individual?
I had high hopes for this one after seeing the track list, and I was not disappointed. Every instrument is phenomenal, and they come together to just scream in your face. Then Nothing But Thieves really do scream in your face!
The entire song is a take on our current society. The third verse really says it all, ending with, “But now the liberals aren’t liberal, they’re just as venomous / And you can’t have an opinion unless you’re one of us / No second chances, you’re branded, your kind are dangerous / We’re bringing each other down, we’re tearing each other down / So have I gotta kill myself to be original? / And if I fucking hate you all am I a criminal? / Can you afford to be an individual?”
Before We Drift Away
This finale is a much-needed relief after the intensity of “Can You Afford to Be An Individual?” The intro is gorgeous and only slightly becomes more energetic with the addition of an orchestra. Nearing the end, the drums kick in some more, bringing the song, and the album, to a fulfilling close.
Overall, Moral Panic was well worth the three-year wait since preceding album Broken Machine. It is available for listening on Spotify and YouTube.