Release Date: Apr 21, 2015
Record label: Heavenly
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
On their 2012 debut, Liverpool psych-pop trio Stealing Sheep perfected the self-described "Medieval Kraut-folk" that they'd introduced two years prior via a trio of well-received EPs. Not Real, the band's sophomore long-player, eschews that penchant for pairing brooding, heathen folk-rock with shimmery, late-'90s dream pop in favor of a more accessible approach that seasons their circular harmonies and serpentine melodies with liberal dollops of icy electronica. More Alt-J than Smoke Fairies, the ten-track set manages to retain the offbeat lyricism and subtle, supernatural vibe of its predecessor, but Rebecca Hawley, Emily Lansley, and Lucy Mercer are clearly attempting to expand their sonic palette (as well as reach a broader audience) this time around.
When Stealing Sheep released their album, Into The Diamond Sun, in 2012, they described it as ‘medieval-kraut-folk’. That’s the kind of laborious portmanteau term that often gets thrown at apparently unclassifiable records in an act of unthinking laziness – but in the case of Into The Diamond Sun, it’s about as concise a description as anyone is likely to come up with. It was in some ways a darkly pastoral record, glinting with bright sunlight, but threatening a sunset that might bring all kinds of horrors.
For those unfamiliar with the pagan-pop revival of 2012, Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer were the wildly imaginative Liverpudlian trio whose debut glistened amid the beige of the New Boring. For their second album, they’ve recalibrated their inherently odd music for a new visionary adventure: this time it’s less muddied by the woodland and more indebted to 1950s exotica – herein are fabricated, fantastical and wildly colourful imaginings about the future and the universe. A lot of existential questions are asked, but few answers are given, which only adds to the whirring charm of this curious music.
Hello, Drowned in Sound readers! This is a very special review, brought to you from the dim and distant past of the early 2000s, when those I Love 1980-whatever shows where all the rage. Transformers! Pacman! A Flock of Seagulls! What with Dutch Uncles’ splendid modern take on new wave, a new Madonna album, East India Youth channelling The Pet Shop Boys, a Twin Peaks comeback and Pins making post punk cool again, going back 25-30 years is all the rage. All of which is a roundabout way of letting you know where Liverpudlians Stealing Sheep are coming from.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. On April 13th, Stealing Sheep dropped their synth heavy, '80s inspired sophomore album, Not Real. The trio, Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer produced the album themselves, seeing how they could use the studio to their advantage. Not Real is all processed, electronic studio noodling that looks to push the boundary of the band's sound.
Stealing Sheep really should be celebrated. Their 2012 debut album, Into The Diamond Sun, an intoxicating mesh of post-punk, pagan folk and Brit lysergia, placed the Liverpool three-piece – music student Becky Hawley, plus shop assistants Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer – alongside their Heavenly labelmates Temples in the nu psych vanguard. Its self-penned and self-produced follow-up, Not Real, pushes boundaries again, equating the recording studio to the adventure playground; over 10 tracks with song titles including Greed, This Time, Deadlock, Sunk, Love and She, they swap traditional instruments for tuned percussion, programmed beats, trigger samples and effected synths.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up six of the best new album releases from this week: catch up ….
Into The Diamond Sun, Stealing Sheep's 2012 debut album, effortlessly picked a path through the kraut/psych/folk/indie hinterland, and was as dazzling as its title suggests. It had a refreshing, ramshackle charm to it, and tunes galore, without ever descending into kookiness or homespun cliché. Not Real is a significant sonic advance on that album, on the face of it adopting a cleaner, more modern sound, but scratch the polished surface, and you'll hear that underneath it's the same band still fizzing with mischief and invention.
The first Stealing Sheep album, Into the Diamond Sun, was an almost aggressively eclectic affair; a hat-trick of EPs that preceded it seemed to have the Liverpool trio in two minds about whether to play things relatively straight, with plenty of Fleet Foxes-flecked folk making the cut, or take a sharp left turn towards experimental territory; in the event, the LP had them opting for the latter. It swung, pretty wildly, between endearing eccentricities at some points and affectations that felt more than a little forced at others; despite it being a bit of a kitchen sink job, though, the intelligence and economy with which they used harmonies as the bedrock of the album at least guaranteed it a sense of cohesion. Their work in the intervening three years has done little to suggest that their appetite for diversity has been pared back at all; they’ve scored their own soundtrack for an obscure seventies science fiction film, performed a live set of David Lynch covers and opened for fellow art-pop purveyors St.