By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
Tuesday was a strange day for Nothing But Thieves. An errant knife blade ended up in frontman extraordinaire Conor Mason’s eye, forcing them to cancel their appearance at Budapest’s Sziget Festival, causing it to be a bad day. On the other hand, their brand new single, I’m Not Made by Design was born unto this world, marking the debut of quite frankly, one of the best tracks they’ve ever produced, causing it to be a good day.
I’m Not Made by Design then. The spoiler to this review is in the first paragraph, but ooooooh baby, what a track we’ve got on our hands here. Despite only debuting yesterday, this has been a staple on NBT live sets since the end of last year, and for good reason. It’s a dark, brooding track, packed to the rafters with riffs, meatier than a butcher’s pencil.
The muted intro to this song is already dark, but you can still see what you’re doing. Whilst this line could be copied and pasted into every review, but Conor Mason’s growing vocals at the start of this song are sublime. Whilst everybody in that band is forever on top form as a sonic unit, Conor is the cherry on a sonic cake that leaves your hunger for good new music satisfied every time. Whilst bands will chunter and complain about how “guitar music is dead” and yer da won’t stop moaning about how “the industry has changed”, these boys get on with the job in hand, which is proving that guitar music is alive and well, and they’re making their way to the top.
Punching, dark and driven, the riff in the chorus is incredibly simplistic, but gets the job done in a big way. The spacing of the notes means each one stabs through the air as they rush past your head in the darkness of this song. Much like the inky-black second verse, much like the murky instrumental breakdown that leads into, a bold claim this may be, a Cornell-style scream from Conor as he bursts into “You take the sweetest thing and claim it as your own”. This isn’t a song to lift your spirits, it’s one that’ll blow up every lightbulb in your house.
Nothing But Thieves have a track record of producing banger after banger after banger, but I’m Not Made by Design may be one of, if not the best tracks they’ve ever written. Everything from the dark, brooding lyrics to the meaty, driving riffs, choruses and instrumental breakdowns comes together to form a near-four minute golden nugget. Between this, Amsterdam and Sorry, they’ve made three indications that September will see the release of what may be one of the best albums of 2017.