From a damp green background, a black horse takes a step. Its figure is slightly blurred by a thin fog. It is not a pleasant scene—the horse is pitch black, and the atmosphere is not vibrantly colored—it feels ominous. This is the album cover for Nothing But Thieves (2015) by an English alternative rock band Nothing But Thieves of the same name. The distinctive feature of this cover art accurately reflects the band Nothing But Thieves; the potential that the Nothing But Thieves holds was immense.
Nothing But Thieves is an English band, formed in 2012. The five members play alternative rock, a genre that allows a somewhat wider musical approach than punk rock. Nothing But Thieves slowly acquired an audience by producing singles since their debut, starting with “Wake Up Call.” They have been featured on many radio shows and performances based on their gaining populace, but the turning point in their musical career was performing as the opening act for Muse’s Rock in Roma show in July 2015.
▲ Album cover. Provided by nbthieves.com
Riding this waves of popularity, Nothing But Thieves released their debut album Nothing But Thieves on October 19th, 2015. The album was a success, entering the official United Kingdom (UK) album chart at seventh and doing well in the U.S. and Australia, which is rare for an alternative rock band. The strong character of the English-gloomy band as well as the versatile voice of main vocalist Conor Mason contributed to the album’s success.
The album consists of 12 songs; four more songs are added on the deluxe version. It starts with “Excuse Me,” an impactful song that sets up the album’s atmosphere with a strong echoing chorus and rather sinister notes. With interesting drum beats and a catchy chorus, “Ban All the Music” is a song that warms up the listener after a strong introduction. The neutral, ear-piercing voice of Conor Mason tops the clear melody lines of the guitar.
The album’s flow continues with “Wake Up Call” and “Itch,” which are quieter songs that unfold the narrative of the album, a young, rebellious theme which—sometimes includes a social wake-up call. In the song “Itch,” Nothing But Thieves shout, “’Cause I just wanna feel something real.” “Itch” fully shows the potential of Conor Mason’s vocals—as the guitar fades out in the middle of the chorus, his extraordinary voice takes center stage.
“If I Get High” and “Graveyard Whistling” are the next songs on the album. “If I Get High,” the title song of this album, needs no description. The repetitive lyrics “And we run and we run, and we run and we run” will constantly whirl around the listener’s ears even if the song ends. “Graveyard Whistling,” a song that has received top reviews, returns the atmosphere of the album to the state of its award-winning album art—a fog whose depth is impossible to speculate on. Its soft yet cold chorus echoes around the ears of the listeners.
“Lover, Please Stay” is probably the most emotional song on the album. The lyrics go, “Lover, I feel your sorrow pouring out of your skin.” The song begs the lover to stay and the emotion that is delivered just through the few simple lines is immense. The album ends with the song “Tempt You (Evocatio),” a song that says a perfect goodbye to the listeners. This song feels as if it is recording the flickering night lights of an empty city as they dissolve into darkness. It consoles the lonely people of the city with its soothing melody and atmosphere.
This only being their debut album, the potential that the band Nothing But Thieves has shown is unmeasurable. This album is best heard on quiet nights, when many might feel empty and down after a tiring day. The album’s gloominess soothes rather than saddens. This is probably why Nothing But Thieves has affected so many people around the globe.