Review Summary: I'm not made by design.
Nothing But Thieves is one of the more interesting bands to emerge in the past decade, lead vocalist Conor Mason is without a doubt very talented and their songwriting, while not perfect, is definitely of a higher level than some of their peers. Their self-titled debut is a fantastic piece of work for the newcomers, and two years later here we are with Broken Machine.
This is not a sophomore slump to put it bluntly, it's exactly what it should've been. It's everything their previous work was but far more ambitious and experimental. At times almost sounding like they've taken inspiration from Muse, which shouldn't come as no surprise with the two touring together. The opening track, "I Was Just A Kid" makes that abundantly clear by using the same type of spacey, electronic guitar tones.
"Live Like Animals" and "I'm Not Made By Design" are both highlight tracks and significant signs of a progression from their initial sound. The experimentation, while not too extreme, is noticeable but fits in perfectly with the sound they had established already. Lead single, "Amsterdam", is an energetic rock tune that sounds out from the rest of the tracklisting, and generally speaking one of the better cuts as is.
Not everything is a winner though. A couple of the songs here just feel like filler, which is a let down given how great most of the songlisting is. "Sorry" is probably one of the most predictable songs they could've ever written, sadly, and "Afterlife" is a weak point to close the album out on. At some points, the electronic parts of songs seem a little awkward and almost unnecessary, none more apparent than on the title track.
The potential this band has is immense, and while Broken Machine isn't perfect, it is worth checking out for newcomers to this band. It's a great sign of what's to come from the band further down the line.