My brother-in-law recently texted me multiple links to songs by the British alternative-rock band Nothing But Thieves. I checked it out and I immediately dug the songs. It took no warming up whatsoever, and I didn’t need to wait for the songs to grow on me. Right away, I liked them – a lot – so I promptly located the rest of their music.
These young rockers have released one album thus far (the eponymous Nothing But Thieves), and in the last few years, they have gone from playing small clubs to selling out larger UK venues. They are coming to the USA this fall and I suspect that their music will spread like wildfire here as well.
Twenty-four year old lead singer Conor Mason has quite the vocal range. The album features plenty of rock songs with strong basslines and screaming guitars and Mason’s howl. The album also has an equal number of dreamy ballads with ambient music and thoughtful lyrics and (often) Mason’s falsetto.
They previously opened for Muse, which makes sense, because they have a similar vibe. Other artists I could draw comparisons to? Some of the faster rock songs remind me of James Bay’s uptempo rock songs, some of the mid-tempo rock songs remind me of OneRepublic, and some of the dreamy ballads that feature a stronger ambient sound remind me of Radiohead or Lana Del Rey. So there’s plenty of variety here, yet the entire album feels cohesive.
My Favorite Tracks:
Excuse Me – This is one of those songs that mixes slower, moody verses with a hard-hitting rock chorus. I love the perfect contrast.
If I Get High – Dreamy, dreary, and effective.
Graveyard Whistling – The pre-chorus of this song draws me closer, and when Mason softly sings “Pow” I am all in as the beautiful chorus begins. Make what you will of the lyrics. They are very open for interpretation, and the bandmates won’t speak of their own feelings behind the words.
Hostage – The pulsing beat in this song never lets up, and Conor Mason’s falsetto makes me feel like a hostage to his voice.
Lover, Please Stay – This stripped down ballad has a simple guitar arrangement to accompany Mason’s haunting voice and lyrical plea.
Drawing Pins – The sultry, cool verses coax you right into the blazing rock chorus.
Tempt You – The moody, atmospheric vibe of this song fits the lyrics perfectly: “How do I tempt you, Out of the city, Out of the city, Out of the city tonight?” I feel like song one would fit perfectly into the soundtrack of a detective noir film set in – you guessed it – the city.
Have you listened to Nothing But Thieves? Let me know what you think of them in the comments section!
Hallie Shepherd is a writer, actress, and film producer. Follow her on Instagram where she celebrates the stories we tell.