Stealing Sheep’s second album, Not Real, comes packaged within enticingly curious cover art: you know that these are legs, but how many, whose, and in what configuration? The music may prompt some of the same questions, as Stealing Sheep’s sound is a surreal and colourful form of pop music.
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If any other inventive quirky pop bands are thinking of downing guitars and picking up 80’s synths in the future can they please use this album as an example of why they should refrain from doing so? Stealing Sheep’s debut ‘Into the Diamond Sun’ was a wonderously pastoral amalgamation of The Slits and Warpaint with a lovely naivety to it that charmed my face off. On the first two tracks presented here, everything I enjoyed about them has been removed and replaced by the kind of dreamy 80’s influenced pop that everyone from Grimes to Lonelady to Madonna is doing. It’s hip right now to use these dreadful late ‘80’s production touches but the moment will pass and they will become as passe as they were in 1990. You could date stamp to 2015 or 1988.
Thankfully ‘Not Real’, which has a nice Tom Tom Club kind of vibe to it signals the start of at least some interesting stuff happening ‘This Time’ is more like their earlier work with the edges sanded down, ‘Evolve’ is a gorgeously evocative piece of eerie folk and once the synths are taken off Stealing Sheep start to really shine. The best tracks are those that play to their quirky strengths and thankfully as the album wears on there are glimpses of their true selves.
I’m no luddite - I love synth based music as much as the next former OMD obsessive but some bands should leave well alone and Stealing Sheep have more about them than to just follow the herd.
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- Not Real by Stealing Sheep
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