Review: Broken Machine (Deluxe)

Nothing But Thieves are one of my favourite British bands at the moment.  Their debut self-titled album exploded onto the alternative rock scene in 2015, and the band have seen themselves rocketed towards more and more recognition and success.  To be fair, any band that’s ever opened for Muse has to be pretty special.  Nothing But Thieves released the first single for Broken Machine back in May; you can watch the video for Amsterdam below:

And now, on to the album.  Broken Machine begins with the incredible grungy drum and bass-led intro to I Was Just A Kid, which helps to set the tone for the rest of the album: this band are unpredictable, and I love their experimental sound.

Second single Sorry is one of the slower tracks on the record, but fans of Nothing But Thieves’s debut will know that this band like to keep their listeners guessing.  The chant of “I’ve waited for this, I’m ready for it” contrasts with the apologetic nature of the song, suggesting feelings of redemption.  It’s followed by the album title track, with electronic-sounding drums and a looping backing vocal which then explodes into an unexpected riff at around the 1:10 mark.

Potentially one of the most experimental tracks on the album, Live Like Animals, is also one of my favourites.  Vocalist Conor Mason experiments with more spoken lyrical delivery, and the crunching riffs are matched by buzzing synths.  By the second chorus, I was ready to get up and start dancing – I can see this track going down well at gigs and festivals.

Hell, Yeah is a change of pace, bringing down the mood slightly with it’s chilled, acoustic instrumentals and Mason’s high, wailing voice and silky delivery on the chorus.  This is followed by the equally down-beat Afterlife; Philip Blake’s bass is undulating and adds a slightly creepy, supernatural vibe to the track.

I reviewed the deluxe version of the album over on Spotify, which features an extra four tracks, including an acoustic version of Sorry and a piano version of Particles.  I really enjoyed the two new tracks, and I’m always a sucker for an acoustic version of a heavier song, so if you are too, I’d definitely recommend picking up the deluxe version of Broken Machine.

I know I already mentioned this, but I thought it was worth reiterating that Nothing But Thieves are probably one of the best British bands currently putting out music.  Their combination of electrifying riffs, dreamy synths and strings, complex and emotional lyrics, and Mason’s bewitching voice is unlike any other band out there at the moment.  If you enjoyed their debut effort – and let it be noted that I don’t trust you if you didn’t enjoy it – then you will definitely also enjoy Broken Machine.  

Highlights: Live Like Animals, Particles, Get Better, Particles – Piano Version

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