Liverpudlian trio Stealing Sheep have shrugged off the ‘pagan folk’ label that has seemingly hounded them since the release of their 2012 album Into The Diamond Sun. The band’s latest release Not Real sounds more like some kind of psychedelic-dystopian-indie-pop amalgamation than the heretic-ritual-chic sound that the band has formerly been branded as being.
Not Real is a polished yet musically imperfect record. Filled with strange and alluring tunes, the talented scousers of Stealing Sheep have created an original, stand alone record; which in this age of beige pop, when the New Boring is still raging, is no mean feat.
Opening track Sequence is fun and vibrant; it sounds like the trendy parts of the North a couple of years ago, that is not to say that the sound is tired, it is just familiar. The harmonies are on point and musically it sounds like The Long Blondes circa 2007; it’s kind of nostalgic/ forward thinking pop-folk, and it works. If Skins was filmed in the North in 2015, this would make up the soundtrack.
Other standout tracks include Apparition which sounds like what would happen if The Cure and La Roux bred and their offspring had Liverpudlian accents. Not Real is the first time in which the listener is properly introduced to this dystopian, initially unnerving element to the album, which truly becomes increasingly charming with every listen. Greed is really the only time the band flit back to their so called pagan-folk past; steady and brooding the track conjures up imagery of dark woodlands and… sacrifice (jokes). In Sunk the girls sound at their most HAIM-TIME style girl bandish, yet they are infinitely cooler than those Haim ladies.
Not Real is a fantastic record, worth listening to, and then listening to again. The girls have replaced their pagan-folk sound with an electronic, fun kind of folk. Their sound is fresh and exciting. Stealing Sheep are breathing life into the stagnant beige age that the music industry has been battling and their album deserves all the praise it will inevitably receive.
NB: The only thing missing from Not Real is a new cover of The Libertines – in 2012 the band released their own version of Boys In The Band which is well worth looking up!