Nothing But Thieves emerged from seemingly nowhere with their explosive self-titled debut album in 2015. The British alt-rock band enamored listeners and critics with their slick hooks, aggressive riffs and Connor Mason’s soaring vocals. Their single Trip Switch topped the alternative billboard charts. The five member group swept through Europe and America playing a series of concerts alongside acts like Muse, Twenty One Pilots and Arcade Fire.
Bands who are popular early in their career are pressured to prove themselves during their second album while facing the danger of a possible “sophomore slump.” Nothing But Thieves’ new album Broken Machine, released Sept. 8 carries their original sound, but they pushed their boundaries and evolved. The album is bolder and angstier than their previous work and reflects new perspectives from the band. With a mix of gritty songs and soul-searching lyrics, Nothing But Thieves prove that they deserve the recognition they have received.
Broken Machine has allowed them to define themselves further in the world of music. In an interview with Dork, Connor Mason said, “It’s great to be able to start again; it almost feels like we’re a new band again.”
Broken Machine is more diverse and cohesive than their debut. They don’t leave room for second thoughts. I Was Just A Kid that opens the album is a bombastic track that begs to be heard live. It kicks the album off with an outburst of energetic heavy beats, which leads up perfectly to the single, Amsterdam. This song has tighter and cleaner sections that transition into a dirtier and heavier chorus. One thing they do brilliantly in this album is showcase their more aggressive and vulnerable sides. I’m Not Made by Design steals the show by expanding into a rage-infected bridge, where Mason’s vocal abilities shine through. Live Like Animals hooks listeners with its punchy, pulsing beat, and the music expresses the same anger Mason carries in his voice.
Softer songs on the album will catch the listener’s attention just as much as the aggressive tracks. Sorry is a calmer song with drums that carry it through soft instrumentals, and the song takes off into Killers-esque synths. In an interview with Team Rock, guitarist Joe-Langridge Brown said, “Sorry is about getting older and the difficulties associated with it. It’s about looking inwards and facing your demons. The song hinges around a flawed individual who can’t hold down a relationship, both to the detriment of themselves and their partner.”
Another standout track on the album is Soda, which deals with personal detachment and wanting to be someone else. The song features emotionally charged music that reflects this disassociation.
In this album, Nothing But Thieves solidify their place in rock music and challenge their musical identity. They demonstrate their songwriting abilities by tackling new territories lyrically, which range from self-reflection to politics. Packed with even more ferocity than before, Broken Machine proves that they can deliver the same punchy sound that they hooked listeners with.