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The best of both worlds in ‘Moral Panic (The Complete Edition)’

| Thursday, November 4, 2021

Claire Kirner | The Observer

Released on Oct. 29, 2021, “Moral Panic (The Complete Edition)” was a surprise for fans of the British alt-rock band Nothing But Thieves. The group had released an LP and an EP of the same name within the past year, and the combination of the two has produced remarkable results.

The LP, titled “Moral Panic,” was released on Oct. 23, 2020. It received generally positive reviews from critics and fans, and made it to No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart. Then, on Jul. 23, 2021, the band released “Moral Panic II,” a five-song EP that allowed the band to “explore some avenues [they] felt the album may have missed.”

The release of this compilation album seemed to me, at first, like it was quite pointless. If their fans knew the two were supposed to go together, then why should it matter whether they are combined or not? However, listening to it made me change my mind. Nothing But Thieves had intricately incorporated the five songs from the EP into the LP track list and rearranged it to flow together better. With this new arrangement, I believe the themes of the album flow together better, the sound is more diversified and the album is more well-rounded.

I have been heavily invested in Nothing But Thieves since the release of their sophomore studio album, “Broken Machine.” While it remains my favorite piece of their work, the complete edition has made “Moral Panic” rise higher in my rankings of their work. When “Moral Panic” was first released, I had mixed opinions. Their singles “Unperson,” “Impossible” and “Is Everybody Going Crazy?” had me hopeful for the full LP, but “Real Love Song” lacked in the band’s usual complexity of lyrics. I found that “Phobia” also lacked sonically and lyrically; the song didn’t have any sort of excitement until it had almost finished, and the lyrics were arduously repetitive of the album’s themes regarding the corruption of society, technology and human connection.

Despite my apprehensions, the album turned out well and I found instant favorites in “This Feels Like the End” and “Free If We Want It.” Nothing But Thieves never fails to impress me with their technical abilities and the beauty of frontman Conor Mason’s vocals. If nothing else in my review makes you want to listen to their music, Conor Mason’s vocal ability and range are worth it. While every member of the band is well-trained and extraordinarily talented, Mason’s voice is extremely unique and expertly controlled. He is one of my favorite vocalists of all-time.

The skills of Nothing But Thieves and their willingness to fine-tune their sound are seen in the EP. This collection features songs that have a greater influence of hip-hop and R&B sounds. The song “Ce n’est Rien” is their most hardcore addition yet, and “Your Blood” dazzles with heart-breaking lyrics well-combined with the themes of “Moral Panic.”

As a huge fan of Nothing But Thieves, I believe that they deserve a higher place in the mainstream of alt-rock music. They’ve been getting bigger with every release, but they haven’t quite found the right time or place to explode (at least in the United States). Their work shows a solid progression of the band’s abilities and musical influences, they put out pieces that are quality and consistent, and their music encompasses a wide range of topics and ideas that can connect to a multitude of listeners. I can’t wait until they get the attention they deserve in the United States (though a part of me will always be protective of them).

Artist: Nothing But Thieves

Album: “Moral Panic (The Complete Edition)”

Label: Sony UK

Favorite tracks: “Your Blood,” “Free If We Want It,” “This Feels Like the End”

If you like: Sam Fender, Muse, Catfish and the Bottlemen

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

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About Anna Falk

Anna is Scene Editor for the 2023-2024 academic year. She is a senior studying Neuroscience and Linguistic who talks about music too much for her own good. Follow her on Spotify @annam.falk

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