Album Review: Nothing But Thieves – Moral Panic
Nothing But Thieves’ last album, 2017’s Broken Machine, found the Essex quintet singing about Donald Trump, The Daily Mail, bigotry and a plethora of other social issues. It is, then, unsurprising that for Moral Panic they’ve once more approached their music with somewhat of a political bent. In the age of COVID, Trump and Brexit, it’s becoming increasingly common to hear musicians lamenting the state of the world, but with such a crowded field of discourse comes the requirement for bands to push harder than ever to truly make their music stand out. And despite Nothing But Thieves’ best efforts, too often Moral Panic feels functional without leaving a lasting impression.
The main selling points of this album are a sleek production job and the technical performance of vocalist Conor Mason, who once again proves himself to be in possession of some serious lungs. The problem, however, is that despite the surface sheen, too many of Moral Panic’s songs fail to really go anywhere. Is Everybody Going Crazy?, for example, is an attempt at Muse-esque space-rock which lacks the grandiosity required to make the song properly sparkle, while the likes of the title-track and Real Love Song are pleasant enough, but there’s a sense that Nothing But Thieves are shooting for something more but not quite getting there. Phobia, meanwhile, offers promise when it builds from Conor’s whispered vocals to something more riff-based, but just when you expect the song to explode into life, it frustratingly doesn’t.
There are some strong moments here – the guitar-driven This Feels Like The End boasts the album’s best chorus, and Impossible exudes moments of genuine passion – but ultimately, Moral Panic feels more like a sideways step than a stride forward for Nothing But Thieves.
For Fans Of: Muse, YONAKA, The White Stripes
Moral Panic is released on October 23 via RCA.
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