Quietly making music since late 2014, caution: thieves come across like a band that’s not in a hurry. They seem to take their time and deliberate before revealing their magic that’s been created with care. Following on from their 2017 EP Songs From The Great Divide, the Melbourne based quintet (Nicholas, Chris, Michael, Tom, and Taylor) released two singles ahead of gifting The Blueprint For Moving Forward to the world on the 26th July.
From the EP artwork alone, I was intrigued to get familiar with The Blueprint For Moving Forward and to understand its story or message. Much like the fabled crumbs of Hansel and Gretel being left as a path through the woods, the EP seems like it leaves notes of survival that we can pick up and use for ourselves, if we so choose.
Opening with “The New Colossus”, there’s nothing quiet about the EP sonically. A thunderous introduction heralds something intense and wild ahead, and punishing guitar works with exasperated vocals as a tandem confrontation. Meaning-wise, the feisty EP opener seems like an attempt to get through to someone and to wake them up to the choices they’re making and the impact it’s having upon others as well as themselves.
I dig the instrumental grit of “The New Colossus” and the reiteration of how the person has changed; from a bright light to now something dull. I have a lot of love for a moment which highlights the bass growls, percussive intensity, and a question of “Can you see what you’ve become?”. In fact I have a lot of love for the bass tone throughout, and the progressively growing sense of frustration. There’s also some delectable vocal hooks to affix this song to one’s brain.
Seeming a bit easier and steadier, “Standing Room” carries a similar sense of observation of a loved one in a difficult situation. Every time “I can feel it now” lands, I feel that too, a frustration to let go that comes with affection. While definitely strong, the track doesn’t punch as hard as “The New Colossus”. It offers an instrumental tension and sense of defeat that works brilliantly though. Colourful flares via guitar and drum break-outs and last gasp-esque vocals suit this state of affairs. Like, “I love you, but enough now. I have to be done”.
Continuing the thread of concerned and compassionate observations of a third party, “Bitter Living” comes with what seems like two voices; one that’s exasperated and one that’s determined to help. In fact, you could hear this same kind of split in the previous track, come to think of it. Vocalist Nicholas Simonsen does a good job at being both pissed off and supportive.
“Bitter Living” feels like a question mark in the air waiting for the other to make a decision, and an instrumental section feels purposely left for contemplation. To me, the track asks “When are you going to make a change for yourself?” while also offering to help shoulder the weight they’re under.
“Daggers for Teeth” feels good from the get-go. There’s something intriguingly good about the gritty ‘bad guy’ kind of riff that sets the scene of this song. With a memorable one-liner, the song is a push back upon the bad guys amongst us; the frenemies, the haters and naysayers. Steadily unfolding and standing firmly, “Daggers for Teeth” seems like a turning point and a mantra to resist sliding into the beliefs of someone else and to stop giving oneself away. It’s a farewell to old harmful patterns and a greeting to something healthier.
Fiercer and faster, “Somewhere Bright” is another frantic cut that comes barreling out of the gate with tension toward another. Seeming to know they’ve fucked up, “Somewhere Bright” offers a raw surrender and an intention to improve.
Musically, I take “Somewhere Bright” as admissions of the tangled mess they’ve found themselves in, apologies for that affecting the other, and requests for faith and trust. Stuttering rhythms capture the tension between the two, where a cleaner and lighter song section with vocal focus is space for reflection and possibility. A gang vocal ending with a sense of groove seems like a far more hopeful place than where we started.
“The Blueprint” is a tender surprise on the end of The Blueprint for Moving Forward. With just guitar and Nicholas’ voice, it comes across like a testament to survival and endurance. With a voice of experience, the ‘blueprint’ seems to be remembering that we’re not alone, and that we don’t have to take on this world on our lonesome. The song is a deep sigh and an exhalation after previous concern, tension, apology, and decisions forward, toward hope and brightness.
The 21 minutes of The Blueprint for Moving Forward draw on experiences of failure and discomfort, and have possibility for something else on the periphery. I found the meandering collection of music to be thoughtful, and have frustration in wanting something else as the main driver. Compassion existed throughout, as well as calls for others to have faith in the protagonist. Musically interesting, with impactful moments (whether punchy or sedate), The Blueprint for Moving Forward has features that'll nudge listeners to return to it, such as melodies that stick in one's head. I take the EP as acknowledging how we're all challenged in our own way, and how we can bond and be vulnerable in this sameness.
Interesting and hooking tunes that veer from savage to tender.
I couldn't tell if there was much left unsaid that was cryptic and safely hidden, or that the lyrics were laid out very simply. I craved more depth in the song meanings than what I was able to extract/understand. This would have added another dimension for me as a listener.