ALBUM REVIEW: Nothing But Thieves – Dead Club City
After Essex ensemble Nothing But Thieves released their 2021 EP Moral Panic II, the band were firing on all jangly alt-rock cylinders. Lead single Futureproof could be the soundtrack to a gas station explosion in a Hollywood blockbuster film. Its frenzied guitars and feisty attitude saw the band delve into dingy rock atmospherics, turning out straight-up banger after banger. The EP also included Miracle, Baby a slow-burning, scuzzy, slinky Muse-esque number that still returned that rock grit. So, when Nothing But Thieves welcomed us to the DCC upon their fourth full-length cycle, no one expected a spiralling, dystopian, disco ball lit concept album. Nothing But Thieves didn’t even expect it themselves.
But perhaps that’s what keeps things fresh, innovative and constantly evolving for NBT. Their craving for constantly throwing curveballs at their creativity and acting on their instincts in the present moment, not for their future selves, not for their past selves. So why not curate an idyllic balance of the inbetween? On Dead Club City, that’s what Nothing But Thieves have executed to stylish, tasteful and classy degrees of success. A world where you need a pass to get into the DCC, an 80’s disco synth party where its members are dressed in The Matrix getup, a place where the dark reality of the downsides to fame and fortune are all too prevalent.
Welcome to the DCC is the first taster of this glitzy world we’re introduced to. Teasing us of the luxurious lifestyle we can all have if we work hard, but ultimately have to party harder for (“If you dream it, you can have it, if you believe it, it can happen”), you can live your perfect life in the DCC. Or can you?
Overcome however, would argue otherwise. Pressurised by the powers of dangerous success and climbing the social ladder to get to that place, Overcame is the song to pack your runaway suitcase to and get as far away from this private members club as you can get. “Scrolling through a life I barely recognised from a hotel room,” sings Connor Mason’s confused character in the song’s second verse, the brutal side of internet culture and fame finally hitting home. By the time this character reaches the lyrics of the chorus, “Redefine the pain to something more and we shall overcome as we’ve done before,” it’s like one of those life-altering, eye-opening, epiphany moments that strikes so hard you have to take control into your own hands and act on it, Is this the start to the road trip out of the DCC?
But the highway to happiness outside of the DCC hasn’t quite arrived yet. Feelings of self-doubt and self-destruction litter Keeping You Around, dreaming of living a quiet life in a quiet town to declutter the mess they have made. Despite trying to rebuild a new life, the realistic side gets the better of its protagonist. With callbacks to Nothing But Thieves‘ past (“I’m still a broken machine, babe”) and present (“Dead club so low”) in this conspiring, conceptual world, Keeping You Around feels like you’ve taken one step forward and two steps back in the face of progress.
Much of the rest of the album sees Nothing But Thieves experimenting sonically, providing a disco-infused rock soundtrack for their short film of an album at this point. City Haunts is a sexy, funk-driven number, one that lingers on your mind like a perfume you are totally infatuated with. Similarly, Do You Love Me Yet? is a disco floor filler, almost as if it was destined to be next on the turntable after Royal Blood’s synthy foray Typhoons, its infectious grooves taking over every inch of your body. Where Green Eyes is a heartfelt, introspective love letter, closer Pop The Balloon is the complete opposite. A dark, twisted distortion-heavy track, one which undoubtedly takes away the glitz and the glamour from the dystopian land of the DCC. Nothing But Thieves are reminding us at the very last minute that money, power and fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Standout Tracks: Welcome To The DCC, Overcome, Tomorrow Is Closed, Keeping You Around, City Haunts, Do You Love Me Yet?
For Fans Of: Muse, Royal Blood, Sam Fender, The Amazons, The Hunna
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood