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Album Review #2 - Nothing But Thieves Self-Titled

Muse are one of my favourite bands. In fact, they are probably the first band I truly fell in love with. The trio from Devon are so unique, choosing different styles for most of their albums. From the more traditional alt rock of Origin of Symmetry to the 80s influenced Simulation Theory, it's all so unique. But wait...this is about Nothing But Thieves, right? Right. Because of the uniqueness of Muse, it's very difficult to find bands similar to them. One band that a lot of people compare to Muse are indeed Nothing But Thieves (I think it's partly to do with the singers, they're both incredible). Personally I don't think they're that similar. They both play alt rock but that's about where the similarities end to me. It's a bit like how Muse used to be called a budget Radiohead (they sound completely different nowadays), even back then anything after OK Computer was completely different to Muse (I love both bands a whole lot).

Anyway, Nothing But Thieves formed in 2011 and its members are Conor Mason (vocals), Joe Langridge-Brown (guitar), Dom Craik (guitar), Philip Blake (bass) and James Price (drums). Nothing But Thieves opened for Muse at my first ever gig and it was brilliant. At the time their only album was their self-titled debut (released in 2015), which still has some of my favourite ever songs. Let's take a look.

Excuse Me
Excuse Me opens with a dark and gloomy opening until we get our first quality chorus showcasing Conor's incredible vocals. I haven't noticed this before but between the first and second chorus there's a really nice groovy bassline. I like how everything comes together just before the last chorus and the impressive amount of layering aspects add to the ethereal element of the song. Excuse Me is fantastic.

Ban All the Music
Ban All the Music starts much more energetically than Excuse Me. The fast-paced riffs are a big change from the last song and it's a much more rough song than Excuse Me. I really like the guitar tone used here as well as Conor's amazing (as usual) singing, his falsettos in the chorus ("Play an illegal song") are especially impressive.

Wake Up Call
I love the chorus on this song, as it brings back the ethereal-sounding elements of Excuse Me and contains more of Conor's brilliant falsettos. The solo here is also great and the whole song feels a bit unusual, in keeping with the sleeping theme of the song.

Everything about this song is fantastic. The fast-paced riff is great and the chorus is beautiful. Conor's vocals shine here at the chorus even more than other songs ("'Cause IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII, I just wanna feel..."). I really like the slightly disjointed solo here as well.

If I Get High
If I Get High is a much slower and more personal song that the previous, at least at the stuff. The acoustic guitars' simple riff is really effective and the dreaminess of the song is awesome in my opinion. Of course the climax of the song further highlights Conor's incredible singing (he's really damn good).

Graveyard Whistling
Probably my second favourite NBT song, I don't really know what to say about this song, it's just so beautiful and peaceful. The progression with the chorus getting louder and more involved as the song goes on is masterful.

This song is really quite different to the other songs. It's lively like Itch but I think it feels a little bit unfocused at times. It's still great though. The melancholic aspect of Conor's vocals are brilliant as always here.

Trip Switch
Another fantastic song. The main riff is really cool here and I love the 'plinky' bit just before the chorus. This song is quite simple but it's still great because it showcases Conor's voice well.

Lover, Please Stay
Lover, Please Stay is definitely my least favourite song on the album. Conor's vocals are definitely as impressive as always and the song is emotional thanks to them but it just feels a bit too much like a pop, Ed Sheeran (what I think Ed Sheeran is like at least) styled song. It's ok.

Drawing Pins
The chorus on this song is great, and the guitar tone is suitably epic. I love the vocal melody here too ("'Cause I-I-I can't figure it out"). The bit around 2 minutes remind me a lot of early Radiohead, it's quite cool. I can't get over Conor's super load parts on this song, they're stunning.

Another very fast song, I really like the main, uneasy riff at the start of this song but I feel like the vocal melodies, especially on the chorus, don't really work. They're quite messy. I suppose that is the theme of the song, as it eerily escalates, but it doesn't really work for me, it doesn't sound that great. It's a decent song.

Tempt You (Evocatio)
The usual highlight of Conor's vocals applies here too and I really like the moody, downer tone of this song. This is a very atmospheric song like Graveyard Whistling and on relisten I actually really quite like it. The electronic aspects of the climax are really cool and add to the mood.

Honey Whiskey
More of Conor's unearthly sounds on this song (like the chorus of Excuse Me) and some sweet vocal melodies. I actually really like the drumming on this song too.

Starts out eerie, but Hanging has a great chorus and cool guitar tone choices. Not much else to say, it's pretty great.

Now, make sure if you buy this album that you get the Deluxe Edition. The two bonus songs that are criminally cut from the regular edition are two of Nothing But Thieves very best songs.

Neon Brother
Neon Brother's buildup is incredible. The guitars and drums slowly build before exploding into the first brilliant chorus. "In the night, in the night" just before the chorus is amazing. Conor's vocals are also at maybe their peak on this song. He just goes for it and it's beautiful ("I heard my brother crying out"). The climax beginning at around 3 minutes is just a masterpiece with how the scream and guitars fit together. It's awesome.

Six Billion
Six Billion is my favourite Nothing But Thieve song and one of my very favourite songs of all time. The gloomy and ethereal verse gives way to the first beautiful but still subdued chorus and then explodes into the later chorus (that stuttering(?) effect with Conor's voice is amazing). That eerie echoing cry in the back of a lot of the song also adds a lot to the song. "You can't deciiiiide if it's enough". This song has some of the best layering on the album as well, there are lots of parts going in and out, like the eerie cry. It's really amazing.

Love this album, love this band. A lot of the instrumentation is a bit simple but that's fine because it allows the spotlight to be on Conor's incredible singing. The atmosphere on a lot of the album is really something too. I give this album a 9/10.

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