IV Thieves Reviewed

If We Can't Escape My Pretty (New West)

IV Thieves Reviewed

IV Thieves

If We Can't Escape My Pretty (New West)

In the nearly two years since Nic Armstrong & the Thieves landed a raucous Britpop roundhouse with The Greatest White Liar, the Austin-by-way-of-Nottingham quartet changed its name to IV Thieves to reflect a more democratic approach in songwriting and lead vocals. While IV Thieves' second album isn't the revelatory exclamation point Liar was, If We Can't Escape My Pretty maintains a near-constant fever pitch as it slams through 12 songs that cover an expanded stylistic range without abandoning the band's blues-infused power-pop foundation. "You Can't Love What You Don't Understand" makes for a tensely emphatic introduction, but the sprightly dynamic "Catastrophe" usurps the former's pick-hit status with its sing-along chorus. The Thieves channel a souped-up version of Squeeze's overcast lamentations on "The Day Is a Downer" and mine a glam-leaning groove with "Take This Heart." "Higher" is a slicked-up cocktail of early Nineties FM rock radio nuances that borders on tedium, but in the context of the album's diversified whole, it evokes grudging nostalgia. Armstrong and company play tortured pop dramatists convincingly on "Die in Love" before settling in for the big finish, "Chase Me Off/Out," which ends in a fading field of cacophonous guitars. Liar or not, My Pretty remains one of the better rock albums to emerge from Austin this year.

***

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