February 26, 2009

Test Spin: Thieves Like Us

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Thieves Like Us, a Swedish-American band currently “exiled in France,” as their MySpace page proudly proclaims, has been appositely compared to the likes of Hot Chip, The Black Ghosts and Crystal Castles. A freshly electro-pop, beat-savvy threesome, the band exudes an effortless cool, infiltrating your brain with breathily-uttered effervescent sounds.
Pontus, Björn and Andy met in Berlin in 2002, where their restless ears quickly tired of the garish, oft-kitschy and overplayed techno and electro music they heard at all the clubs. And so they decided to start deejaying — making their own music and drowning out all their troubles in a newfound pleasure. They experimented with everything from old krautrock to italo disco to David Bowie and even hip-hop. Yet nothing seemed to please the German crowds. And so they pulled up the stakes and tried their luck in New York City, where their previously beleaguered misfortune was more widely accepted, and even enjoyed, by a debatably more convivial crowd.
The band’s first release, Play Music, is a sort of autobiography that traces the wide range of emotions the bandmates encounter day to day. True to their word, the first track, entitled “Program of the First Part,” opens with a vacant rippling of echoed electronic scales, moves on to incorporate stark hand claps and is eventually coupled with a vigorously persistent bass line that breaks the silent voids and retains a sort of determined aggression throughout the entire six-minute piece.
These untiring bass and electro beats, paired with vocals that alternate between almost unemotionally robotic and earnestly appealing, form the base for the album. What the lyrics themselves may be lacking in depth, the passion conveyed via instrumental sounds makes up for — upbeat yet chillingly synthy all at once, Thieves’ intuitive infusion of sentiment into sound makes for an album that creates a danceable atmosphere, yet which equally inspires dramatic reflection. With sounds that make you both bounce and think, it looks like the only thing these Thieves will be stealing are our hearts … and our iTunes play counts.