Big Wows

Stealing Sheep

PIAS America, 2019

http://stealingsheep.net

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/06/2019

If Stealing Sheep’s third release Big Wows is your first introduction to the band, then you would find it hard to believe that this is the same group with the same members that created the first two records. What started off as an eccentric indie folk endeavour on Into The Diamond Sun and later morphed into one that included some electronic flavor to its core sound on Not Real has finally turned into an all-out shiny electropop outfit here. And boy, have they taken a really deep dive into this new identity of theirs!

Right from the first impression, Rebecca Hawley, Emily Lansley, and Lucy Mercer sound like seasoned electronic musicians. Their confidence shows right from the start. Although my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Big Wows is not oversweet, it is relentlessly upbeat. The trio is so comfortable in this new skin that they celebrate it with bold synthesizer sounds, like the glowing opening music on “Show Love” or the stereoscopic effects on “Choose Like You,” which is almost a “show-off” move.

This album is full of bright synthesizers with glossy, unblemished production; still, its overall sound is warm and is far from dehumanizing electronica. The songs are short and tight but not without complexity, thanks to the incessant interplay between the different synthesizer sounds and effects in the music that are definitely not normal but are still incredibly catchy.

The harmony and the interchanging of vocals between Hawley, Lansley, and Mercer, which is such a huge factor in the trio’s musical identity and strength, thrives on this disc. This vocal characteristic is stunningly gorgeous when it is trying to create an ethereal feel (like on “Choose Like You”), and super fun when the singers go back and forth many times on the same song (for instance, on “Joking Me”). The bass-and-drum centered arrangements on this album add a nice groovy touch, especially on the title track, whose smooth disco vibe is further enhanced by the killer drums and bass combination.

In every way, Big Wows is Stealing Sheep’s strongest effort. Still, with their adoption of a more accessible and comparatively popular sound, it might seem like Stealing Sheep is giving up the originality that came with their unique music style on the previous two releases. However, if anything, going pop has shown how beautifully the trio has evolved; their music is still as original as ever, if only in a different stylistic way. It is clear that this change by the group is not superficial, as it is backed by some seriously brilliant music. If Big Wows is Stealing Sheep’s attempt to dramatically turn around their musical trajectory, then way to do it with a bang!

Rating: A-

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