Nothing But Thieves – “Moral Panic” Review

Story posted October 28, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Courtney Benedetto

Where can listeners find a dynamic combination of soulful, powerhouse vocals and heavy rock? Nothing But Thieves’ newest album “Moral Panic.”

Nothing But Thieves is an English rock band formed in 2012. The band has produced three complete albums as well as several singles and EPs over the years. Lead singer Conor Mason in particular is known for his amazing vocal abilities.

“Moral Panic” was released on Friday after their last full-length album, “Broken Machine” was released in 2017.

“Moral Panic” strays from Nothing But Thieves’ usual heavy rock sound, as they experiment with ways to accentuate Mason’s killer voice.

Mason’s singing is extremely impressive, but the album is missing the key elements that make an energetic concert setlist.

One major trend throughout the songs is a slow start that eventually builds up to their iconic rock ‘n’ roll beat.

Some of the songs, such as “Impossible,” “Free If We Want It,” “Before We Drift Away” and “Moral Panic,” feature a slow intro that eventually leads to an upbeat second verse.

“Impossible” makes up for its sluggish structure due to the powerful impact it has. This song is about finding real love after doubting it would ever be found. The chorus begins with the lyrics “I could drown myself in someone like you,” which emphasizes the weight of love. Paired with Mason’s dynamic singing voice, the lyrics hit the heart.

On the contrary, one of the songs that just does not live up to the band’s reputation is “There Was Sun.” This song has a funky beat rather than a rock ‘n’ roll vibe. While most of the songs have similar structures to add to the cohesion of the album, this song sticks out like a sore thumb.

Thematically, the album is about love and, more specifically, the absence of love after death. The minor chords in the songs give the album a somber feel as the lyrics reflect the troubles of being in love.

This continuity of death vs. love is evident in the song “Can You Afford to Be an Individual?” The song features the heaviest rock sound that finally showcases Nothing But Thieves’ old sound that fans adore.

“Phobia” is the best surprise on the album. While the song does start off slower than most, the vocals are also hushed to create a very creepy mood. It is not until halfway through the song that the electric guitar pops out of nowhere to deliver a solid instrumental performance. The buildup and delivery of “Phobia” is very well executed in comparison to many of the songs that begin the same way.

Compared to Nothing But Thieves’ earlier works, “Moral Panic” is a bit of a letdown.

Longtime fans were not expecting the sudden dive into mellow vibes after falling in love with the band’s true rock sound. However, there are a few stand-out songs that make up for the rest of the album.

One thing that is known for sure is that Conor Mason has a truly captivating voice. If this album had been made without him, Nothing But Thieves’ sound would get washed out by the numerous other English rock bands vying for audiences’ attention.

Rating: 6/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Songs: “Impossible” and “Phobia”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “There Was Sun”

 

Courtney Benedetto is a freshman majoring in print/digital journalism. To contact her, email at cmb7747@psu.edu.