Words by Alice Barradale
Question: Did I really stay up from 1am to listen to the complete album front to back possibly 4 or 5 times? I sure did, and it was everything I could’ve asked for. Moral Panic, the third album released by the Essex-based rock band perfectly summarises the chaotic, heart-breaking and complete whirlwind 2020 has become. Although written during 2019 – Nothing But Thieves have created a beautifully shape-shifting prediction of the world’s current climate – from toilet roll rationing to public outcry for political change. The album’s first track ‘Is Everybody Going Crazy?’, released back in March was initially written about the previous year’s lunacy, however was definitely fit for consumption within the traumatising month of March and onwards, ironically being released two days after the UK was placed into lockdown.
“It’s strange how songs you write can sometimes become more relevant as time passes. ‘In this restless, disfigured place, we’ve only got each other”. -Nothing But Thieves via Twitter.
Throughout the 11 tracks on the album, it has become evident that the band have produced a record that perfectly demonstrates their range whilst pushing to the extremes, especially within their “Can You Afford to Be an Individual?” track which is undeniably the band’s most political track to date. The unbelievably powerful third verse alone covers issues surrounding; Donald Trump, his supporters and the state of America today through references towards Donald Trumps ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign:
“Oh, you’re a walking contradiction in a MAGA-hat
It’s where I wanna be, God bless the land of the free
So who are you to tell us where we do and don’t belong?
And who are you to tell us who to love and who to not?”
The ‘walking contradiction’ therefore is America’s demise, exacerbating the mainstreaming of far-right ideals which are seeping into public discourse, such as issues surrounding anti-immigration and pro-nationalism. The track is then followed by ‘Before We Drift Away’, as Joe Langridge-Brown (Guitarist) explains;
“To end an album called Moral Panic, where it’s about being quite damaged by your outside experience, and then it being really reflective with this and the line ‘I don’t want to grow old,’ and that being the last thing you hear, I thought it was very poignant”.
– via Apple Music
The poignant chorus is heart-breaking, reflecting the agony of lost love, a recurring theme within the album…
“And as we sing this familiar song
I thought I’m gonna miss your love when it’s gone
Will it flow into the river?
Or will it go to waste?
Before we drift away
Before we drift away…”
The track “Real Love Song” also holds similar themes of heartbreak and loss. We instantly notice the contradictory anti-romance melody that is paired with the title of the song, slowly building and revealing the realities of love and the inevitable pain that follows. However, the repetition of “got a thing about you and it won’t go away” perfectly symbolises the gruelling acceptance that love comes with pain, and we cannot allow this to fear to disregard love in its entirety. This is portrayed through the beautifully shot music video which follows the heartbreak of a couple and the progression of new love towards the end, representing the timeline of heartbreak and its recovery.
However, the most poignant song (and my personal favourite track), ‘Impossible’, is a complete turn-around that injects hope and relief into the album. Connor explains “the song is that levity on the record, that release from tension.” A rare spectacle to find within a Nothing But Thieves album, where darker themes take the stage usually. This song emphasises how hope can be found even in the darkest of times and is thus an anthem of why we should never give up. As the title explains, ‘Moral Panic’ is the perfect representation of our ever-changing world and its current climate. Nothing But Thieves have once again undeniably created another mind-blowing gritty rock album that demonstrates the powerful range and abilities within the group, cementing themselves as one of the best current rock bands in the UK.