Thieves Like Us consists of two Swedes and one American. The combination sounds deadly, but this small, ambitious group of three doesn’t focus so much on origin of self in their music-making as much as they do on creating an album full of accessible French electro-pop. Again and Again, the latest Thieves Like Us effort, does exactly what the title entails. It generates a feeling of monotony: something that has been made over and over again.
To be a completely honest asshole, most of this new album sounds like a mash-up between Daft Punk, Justice, and MGMT, which is good for the money and for the fans who love to listen to similar types of music at a constant rate, but it’s mostly bad for the progression of electronic music. The genre is already flooding the mainstream radio waves, so trying to find bands who are pushing the envelope on this tiresome type of music is a rigorous task. Again and Again doesn’t progress but simply does more of the same.
Many elements of this new album sound like copy and paste versions of bands who have already blazed major trails in the electronic world. The constant and heavily computerized bass found on most of Again and Again has a retro-funk vibe popularized by Justice. A thundering yet short build up of sharp and poignant drum beats remind one of early Daft Punk and of the crazy musical shenanigans once recognized only by the French duo. “Never Known Love” is a perfect example and showcases of all the obvious ideas pulled from the different bands listed. Even the vocals are reminiscent of MGMT and their harmonizations, not just on “Never Known Love” but on the entire album. Three distinct sounds don’t make one stand-out group; one unique and fully realized sound does.
When reviewing an album, I normally tend to look for progressions, progressions from past albums and from past bands. If sounds are just found to be copied, a look of disdain will cross my face. If ideas from past bands are used as building blocks to form new and unique sounds, then my ears are in for a pleasurable listen. It doesn’t matter the genre; if an evolution (a significant change) in music is found, then all listeners should, could, and would find something enjoyable in almost every type. It’s not that Thieves Like Us don’t try anything new, it’s just that they pull too much from the “already happened.”
Songs like “Mercy” and “Silence” are downtempo and unique but don’t carry this cookie-cutter album in ways that it needed. Using Thieves Like Us as an example, up-and-coming acts really need to focus on emotion and art, not so much the money and fame.