October 23, 2020

Nothing But Thieves – Moral Panic (Sony)

Wrapping your head around Nothing But Thieves might be a tricky thing to accomplish, but trust me, the payoff is worth it. They have a knack for making something strange sound perfectly, reasonable pop-ready. 

Gritty guitars riff in syncopation with a steadily pounding beat, while keys fill in the gaps. There aren’t many gaps, so the keys are pretty subtle. 

Vocally, this is a different animal altogether. Conor’s voice is smoother than Adam Levine’s (when he wants it to be), as playful as Brendon Urie’s, and just plain better than Brandon Flowers. Though favorable comparisons can be made to all three. 

Moral Panic is the 3rd studio album from the British quintet, and the first to capture my attention. I will revisit earlier work to see if it was just me, but this one feels different. This is particularly true of the jarring album opener, “Unperson”, and the mid-record wake-up call, “Phobia”, which shift gears multiple times creating a frenetic, almost manic headspace. The guitar-heavy “This Feels Like the End” provides an uplifting look at the end-times, and just jams.

Sure, there are some less impressive attempts to be a “relevant” pop group. “Real Love Song”, “Free If We Want It”, and the title track fall most obviously into that category. Those songs aren’t terrible, though. Actually, they are probably more accessible to a casual listener, but seem a little dry in comparison to the other songs’ level of creativity. 

And elitism is still sexy, so I’ll take the others first. 

FFO: Royal Blood, Panic At The Disco

-JR

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