Nothing But Thieves – ‘Real Love Song’ Review

Label: Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd.

Release Date: 23rd June 2020

Rating: 9/10

"As someone who regularly sits in a room with my feelings and a Nick Cave LP, I feel seen by this sentiment."

'Real Love Song' artwork.

Nothing But Thieves premiered their new single, ‘Real Love Song’, on Annie Mac’s Future Sounds this evening. Killing two birds with one stone, they also announced their third studio album, Moral Panic, due for release on the 23rd of October.

Nothing But Thieves fans, a force to be reckoned with at the best of times, were able to figure out the details of the single and album release through cryptic codes on the website prior to the official announcement.

‘Real Love Song’, the next single along from ‘Is Everybody Going Crazy?’, shows marked development from the sonics of Broken Machine. The reverb of the piano at the beginning is gorgeous, announcing the track’s obvious love song status. Mason has always boasted stunning vocal abilities, with clear influences from Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke shining through, but his musical progression here is obvious. His voice has such great depth: one moment, he’ll be screaming at the top of his lungs in a falsetto, Buckley-esque fashion, and the next he’ll be close to a whisper. His voice is absolutely the most beautiful of this generation.

The opening lyrics are a complete punch in the gut: “This is a love song, real love / Dirty rip out the whole of your soul love / I’ll hate myself for days love / Sitting all alone and listening to Nick Cave love.” As someone who regularly sits in a room with my feelings and a Nick Cave LP, I feel seen by this sentiment. The repetition of “love” at the end of each line here is clever, serving as a term of endearment and an overall address of love itself. Tracks such as ‘Particles’ and ‘Lover, Please Stay’ are largely interpreted as the softest Nothing But Thieves tracks, but the sheer vulnerability of ‘Real Love Song’ marks it as a contender for the top soft spot.

Phoning into Annie Mac’s Future Sounds, frontman Conor Mason recognised that this is the band’s first “official” love song: “'Real Love Song' is somewhat, I’d say, not sonically, not lyrically, an anomaly, in a sense. It addresses those inner tensions and the inner reflection of what the reality of love is.” This might be the band’s first "official", overt love song, but they’ve hit the nail on the head here: it isn’t overly cheesy as love songs tend to be, but genuinely hard-hitting. I cringe at most songs of this calibre, but I can’t pretend that this didn’t tug at my heartstrings.

Going on to discuss the wider themes explored in Moral Panic, a fitting title perhaps suggestive of public mood during a pandemic, Mason stated the overarching themes of the album as being inspired by “climate change and politics, and everything we’re seeing online and the lunacy online, everyone’s feeling of discomfort and questioning themselves. That general tension.”

Nothing But Thieves never fail to please. Put simply, it is a pleasure to experience the euphoria of their third studio album unfold in real-time. ‘Real Love Song’ is an absolute belter, and I’ll no doubt have it on repeat until the 23rd of October.

Words by Eleanor Noyce.

23rd June 2020.

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