One might be mistaken from the intro to Blanked Out from Thieves that we’re in for a dark brooding murder ballad. Chaotic tremello picked guitar, deep piano drones and a bass and drum roll very much suited to a song about some cheating woman who is only moments away from being rolled up in a carpet and dumped in the woods.
One might look past the slightly self deprecating lyrics from the first few verses, fingers tightly crossed knowing that it’s merely the calm before the storm, an outline of the insecurities that led this man to commit these unspeakable acts we’re about to hear.
Sydney’s Thieves turn the love song on it’s head with the brooding, sexy and heartfelt new single Blanked Out. It’s a modern Inner West romance.
And then it happens. 1:46 in (I’m reviewing the album version not the radio edit. Radio edits can go suck it) and everything changes. “I’m just that boy hoping he could be that man that loves you so damn much”. We’re then greeted with a wall of guitars and drums at which point one might think: “Ah shit! We’re in love song territory!”
And hell yeah we are. Australia needs more love songs like this. Dark, brooding, sexy yet heartfelt and deep. Blanked Out is very much the Mr Hyde to their previous single A Way To Ease The Pain which followed a much more pop styling with cute guitar work and a superficially optimistic tone. That being said one thing that does unite both of these tracks is that they feel and sound like Inner West love songs. As a freshly single inner west male (hello ladies!) both of these songs bring out the excitement and torment of being a twenty something looking for love on King Street. The optimism, the playful glances across a bar, the initial conversations on shared interests; the Dr Jekyll. The unreturned texts, the foreboding sense of loss, the inevitable self reflection and resulting self loathing; the Mr Hyde.
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There is depth to the writing here that really rewards those that are searching for it. Singer and guitarist Thomas Keating is a man with balls. He writes his songs with balls and for those that have seen him live know he can play his guitar with balls. Thieves are a loud and exciting band. Loud because they know when to be quiet and exciting because they know what emotions are and how to use them. And that really brings me to the crux of what excites me about Blanked Out and in turn Thieves in general. They’re an honest band singing songs.
I’d rather be besties with Bieber than suffer through another meaningless skater punk song by a bunch of kids who have never heard of Jay Reatard or another alt-country song by some dude that seems to have allowed his suitability to grow facial hair guide him in his artistic direction. There is no honesty there and sometimes bands like that go far. All hail the unfairness of life.
But music isn’t a game of honesty. It’s a game of popularity and sadly those two things very rarely go hand in hand. I don’t know who recorded their upcoming record or if it was DIY, but from what they’ve released so far it sounds like what a rock band should. Raw, electric and alive. Nothing overly ambitious in scope, just songs played by guys with instruments. And in that combination lies the honesty. No hiding behind recording techniques, just dudes that have a story to tell. You can either connect with their stories or not.
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