Review Summary: “I felt no pain ‘till I was down and I was told that I was bleeding. And even then I knew I wasn’t done”
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to put pen to paper with music criticism without falling into derivative tropes. It seems like a recurring theme in modern music criticism is that a band or artist needs to continuously reinvent themselves to remain “relevant” or to receive praise. Look around and you’ll find complaints of “retreading” or “staying the same” in lieu of actual, you know, critical thought
. Were this not enough, to progress too much is to be lambasted for exploring too far outside an established sound. Unintuitive, yes, making it damn near impossible for musicians to do, well, anything without getting flack. With this in mind, The Hands That Thieve
becomes even more an impressive and admirable feat. Streetlight Manifesto, as always, appear to not give a *** as they opt to do their own thing without any regard towards what people think. Yes, The Hands That Thieve
is in essence a rinse and repeat of everything the band has ever done. And frankly, thank God for that.
Streetlight Manifesto are the de facto ska poster children, generally popping up whenever people begin to describe the inane differences between the various “waves” of the genre. But it speaks a lot about the band’s influence and legacy that they’ve remained such a powerful force, despite extended breaks between releases. Perhaps it is because the band has always been so incredibly accessible, that nearly anyone can become hooked. Even those with a disdain for all forms of punk can become engrossed in the palpable energy and incredibly fun vibes that the band gives off. The Hands That Thieve
is the perfect representation of this; a thoroughly enjoyable romp with surprising depth that is everything to love about Streetlight Manifesto.
As stated, the band’s third outing is very much similar to their previous opus’ Everything Went Numb
and Somewhere in the Between
. Keeping with tradition, each second is stuffed with clamoring horns, woodwinds, and guitar. It sounds enormous at every turn thanks in part to a production that ties everything together perfectly. The pace is blistering and explosive, with Streetlight Manifesto never sounding so good. This goes a long way in helping make each selection shine. Lyrically, The Hands That Thieve
is rather surprising, standing as one of the most mature and intricately written works of the band's career. While always delightful, Streetlight tackle some lofty subjects here with fervor, all while seemingly incredibly genuine. But what Streetlight really excel at here, as they have in the past, is crafting the sublime melodies that permeate every song. I remember the very moment I heard the insanely catchy chorus in “With Any Sort of Certainty” for the first time. There was a feeling about it that made me want to clamor along with it, despite not yet knowing the words. It’s a strange feeling, being so familiar with something so new, yet wanting so badly to become better acquainted with it. This is where The Hands That Thieve
gets its staying power.
It’s so predictable, really, that Streetlight Manifesto arise from the ashes after six years only to release yet another modern masterpiece. But that’s what we get with The Hands That Thieve
. It’s so perfectly and lovingly written and produced, recalling everything that made you fall in love with the band and their life affirming sound to begin with.