by Ruby Parsons
To quote the band’s twitter account, the opening track to Nothing But Thieves‘ new album, Broken Machine, really does “blow your head off”. ‘I Was Just a Kid’, dutifully assisted by track two, ‘Amsterdam’, has the Essex 5-piece delivering a punch-to-the-face introduction to their much anticipated sophomore release. In these first two tracks alone we already get tasters of what’s to come later in the album, dramatic intense vocals, well placed pace changes and pure talent. Two years on from their debut release, Nothing But Thieves, Broken Machine is soaring it’s way through the charts receiving praise not only from reviewers, but fellow musicians.
‘Live Like Animals’ sounds so different that I had to double check it was still Nothing But Thieves I was listening to. It’s always nice to hear bands experimenting, especially when it works so well. ‘Reset me’ and ‘Number 13’ are givers and takers, soft melodic teasers tangled in with heavier punchy doses of drums and guitar, songs that don’t rest at an idle monotone but spark with excitement. ‘Hell Yeah’ is the softest track on the album, the acoustic guitar teamed with the soft drums and higher pitched vocals give it a romantic sound which will undoubtedly make for beautiful atmospheric live renditions.
Lead singer, Conor Mason, has an impeccable voice; he twists his tone and pitch with extraordinary control, taking it in different directions with every track, taking us on a journey of his vocal talent. ‘Particles’ is set to be a favourite amongst fans, purely for how stunning Mason’s voice sounds, it’s a real showcase of how talented he is. The piano version only highlights this further, the stripped down backing track and more prominent vocals is almost chilling in it’s intensity.
New release Broken Machine is full of heart, strong willed and well written lyrics. “Borderlines are drawn ‘cos of where you’re born don’t you dare protest” and “red and white and blue we’ll look after you ‘cos we know what’s best” in ‘Reset Me’ demonstrates how just one song alone can not only entertain but can share important messages and opinions, inoffensive but relevant. You can hear the time and effort spent on making an album which is full of rousing inspiration, it has the power to bring you out of a rut and remind you why music is important. Each song is it’s own polished neat little world that fits perfectly in the universe of this record. Countless bands don’t manage the right ratio of new twist to old classic, Broken Machine is an exception to this, it’s a dangerously close to being the perfect follow up album.
Broken Machine is out now on Sony Music.