Thieves & Villains have a sense of urgency in exploring musical styles and composition on their second album for Victory Records. Unfortunately, their album begins with flop “16 Hits,” a song which reaches desperately for an anthemic feel and instead, ends up with an anticlimactic arrangement and unenthusiastic instrumentals. As the album trudges on, the New York four-piece leans towards mid-tempo pop rock that they undoubtedly are pretty good at.
“Song For Dean Moriarty” is the perfect example of this, with an acceptably simple arrangement that perfectly highlights singer Sergio Otaegui’s raspy and catchy vocals. Their driving instrumental bridge shows promise as they add some momentum for the rest of the track.
And despite “Drunk In Amsterdam” and “Central” being typical pop-rock tracks with lyrics about falling in love, accepting that “we all die young,” and living life to the fullest, these cliché-ridden tracks are the most solid of the album. The band seems more confident playing this style, making the final product more believable and powerful during their pounding instrumental breaks and deftly catchy hooks.
Although the album has its touch of quirkiness with the guitar melody on “Virginia Woolf” and chaotic drum syncopation in “Youth,” the album contains juvenile and tedious lyrics about using friends for their social status and schmoozing in swanky, skank-filled clubs in “I Want A Friend Like You” and the tale of an “American Boy” that tries his hardest, which easily distract from any instrumental high points. And although the majority of tracks don’t exceed three minutes, they all feel like they drag on forever, proving it’s near impossible to get lost in South America.