Stealing Sheep – Not Real Review

On their latest album, Not Real, psych-folk trio Stealing Sheep bounce back and forth between upbeat, peppy tracks and something a little darker. They know exactly how to create fun, energetic melodies that make you want to dance. Standout tracks include ‘Deadlock’, the opening of which sounds like an 80’s arcade game soundtrack, and ‘Sunk’ which gives us powerful, punchy beats offset brilliantly by melodic vocals. ‘Greed’ is a really interesting track; it’s slower and more deliberate with off-key xylophone chimes, with vocals that seem reminiscent of traditional Chinese music or even Gregorian chants… with a psychedelic edge.

On occasions, Stealing Sheep’s high-pitched synth riffs become a little too much and almost enough to make you cringe, particularly when listening with the volume high. In many places there isn’t enough variation in pitch to give your ears a break, and it seems the electronic sound is there simply for the sake of it than providing us with something interesting to listen to. Closing track ‘She’ is the perfect example of this; the song crescendos into a mishmash of noise with screaming electronic sounds which are simply too much. It doesn’t bring the album to an impressive, memorable finish but instead leaves a ringing in your ears and even a little relief that it’s over.

Although it lacks their signature electronic sound, ‘Evolve & Expand’ is one of the most intriguing tracks on the album. It is comprised of light, girlish vocals which are little more than a whisper and a simple and repetitive guitar riff. The simplicity of the song clashes with the rest of the album and really makes it stand out, particularly when the lyrics kick in with a creepy opening line; “They will cook you up and grind you down for glue and clay”. As the track begins to come to a close, the vocals and guitar are slowly muffled and it sounds like the song is peacefully drowning, becoming quieter and quieter until silence. This is an eerie track that interrupts the cheerfulness of the rest of the album, adding enough edge for you to realise that the band has more to offer than just high pitched synth and drum machines.

All in all, Stealing Sheep have a talent for creating engaging rhythmic melodies that have you humming along from the very first listen, as though you’ve heard the track a hundred times before. For that reason Not Real is a fun, feel good album, perfect for summer.

Stealing Sheep – Not Real = 6/10

Ellie Scott @elliemaryscott