Despite the alluding name and lyrics recounting the end of days, Nothing But Thieves third studio album ‘Moral Panic’ was written way before the dystopian era of 2020.
With an impressive track record just five years into their studio career, ‘Moral Panic’ is an amalgamation of everything the band do best. From the recognisable silken ballads to the heavier prog-rock tracks, Nothing But Thieves have certainly found their signature sound and run far, far away with it.
‘Is Everybody Going Crazy?’ and ‘Unperson’ both head the album with monumental force, each taking influence from their much earlier sound melding catchy chorus’ with distortion and reverb, all while pushing lead singer Connor Mason’s vocal range to the extreme.
By the fourth track, ‘A Real Love Song’, the quintet pay homage to their ‘80s counterparts with a gothic opening that could have made a debut on almost any 40-year-old Iggy Pop album. Mentions of Nick Cave and a disgruntled tale of heartache match the dark verses, which are immediately countered by indie-pop riffs.
‘Phobia’ very quickly defies everything that ‘A Real Love Song’ attempts to do, the Muse-esque track bringing another enormous anthem to the record. Building up to its much heavier ending, the band prove their godly rock-status once more as the song descends into a much darker chaos.
Where the first half of the album boasts songs likely to fill arenas post-2020, the middle of the album begins to trail. Tracks such as ‘This Feels Like The End’ and ‘There Was Sun’ feel lifeless in the face of such mammoth songs earlier in the album, but are quickly refuted by the end.
Ears begin to prick again come the penultimate song, ’Can You Afford To Be An Individual?’. The four-minute track deserves to be twice the length, acting as an instant antithesis to the rest of the album. A ridiculous, fun and energetic song which tries to do something completely different - undoubtedly one of the better songs on the record.
In true Nothing But Thieves style, the last track features Mason’s velvety whispers of agony and long-lost love. ‘Before We Drift Away’ is a commendable end to the record, softening the blow of such immense forerunning tracks.
Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, ‘Moral Panic’ perfectly shape-shifts into its new context in the midst of the current climate. The band achieve another phenomenal album which might have benefited from one or two fewer songs - but nevertheless demonstrates their dramatic range of capabilities with a spattering of radio hits.
Words: Gemma Ross
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