Thief Club is the side project of Hit The Lights frontman Nick Thompson and initially it seems like an odd venture considering his success with his main project. My Heavy seems more like a throwback and a tribute than a forward thinking modern release because it reminds me of the music I listened to when transitioning from mainstream music to punk, back when releases of this nature were more common. I suppose it falls under the label of easycore (?), merging standard pop-punk with heavier instrumentals at times. There’s a reason the genre isn’t especially prominent anymore, but it’s not because of releases as good as My Heavy.
My Heavy is fairly similar to Thompson‘s work with Hit The Lights but it sees him branch out more, expanding his own musical horizons in a way that only a solo project can. Admittedly the differences aren’t particularly noticeable but that’s partly down to the excellent job Thompson does vocally, excelling throughout and detracting from other aspects of Theif Club’s music.A lot of the songs the album contains were written for Hit The Lights before Thompson decided to use them elsewhere, so it goes without saying that any Hit The Lights fans will like Thief Club, and vice versa. It contains nine tracks of both cheesy and catchy pop-punk tracks mixed with a few heavier elements in the form of poppy breakdowns like those featured on the title track. At nine tracks it may fall a little short but for a side project the music the My Heavy contains is better than you’d expect, and probably as good as you’d expect from Thompson. Brand New Ways kicks things off as a traditional opener, being the shortest track and building from a basic guitar riff. It sets the tone well, and following track Fragile Eyes wastes no time by stepping it up a level, exploding into life instantly as vocals climb over emphatic instrumentals. The lyrics on this tracks fall a little flat but as a whole the album is very well written, with hooks aplenty and sing-along lyrics thrown into the majority of tracks. Lyrically it’s a much more personal record than Hit The Lights fans will be used to but it’s also open enough to involve a listener, in both its heavier and mellower moments. For the most part My Heavy brims with an insatiable energy and it rarely slows down, making for 32 minutes of catchy and upbeat music. However, fifth track Slow Ride opts for a subtler approach as Thompson delivers a charming track that paints a fairly romantic picture. There’s a certain Chase This Light (Jimmy Eat World album) feel to the song which Thompson said he aimed for in the albums background notes and it works well, delivering a big chorus and memorable vocals without pushing too far. Knew Your Name and Weight With You are much more forgettable and are two of the albums weaker tracks, despite still remaining catchy pop-punk tracks in the vein of early Yellowcard. My Heavy does occasionally suffer from a few weaker moments but thankfully these are overshadowed by the albums better tracks, not including ninth track DMT. The closer seems very out of place and for numerous reasons it’s the only track that really merits a skip. Twinkling electronics and clumsy synths accompany high pitched vocals which are drowned out for the most part by an almost annoying and shimmering backdrop. It’s a nice idea which hasn’t been pulled off, although it does serve as an unusual novelty which seems more like an afterthought than a solid finale.
If, like me, you’re a sucker for a bit of backstory when it comes to content you can read a little about each songs conception and meaning on Thief Club’s website, and upon doing so you find out that My Heavy is a very personal album, although it doesn’t seem to be at first. The two more personal and intimate tracks are also two of the records best and these are sixth track My Heavy and ninth track The First Place. The former, unsurprisingly, is the albums heaviest track, throwing in faster vocals over a meaty hardcore styled riff as Thompson addresses his own flaws in the wake of Hit The Light’s issues with Universal. The addition of Cartel’s Will Hugh on the songs bridge is a nice touch, as are the contributions of Shane Henderson (Valencia) on Follow You. The First Place covers the loss of a friend whilst on the road and serves as a means for Thompson to address his own guilt, asking ‘What kind of friend’s not by your side?’. It’s a touching song aided by upbeat instrumentals and Thompson’s most memorable vocal performance, especially during the emotional chorus.
Overall, My Heavy is a record that captures Nick Thompson at his best for the most part. The tracks are catchy, personal and generally entertaining – some more than others. It isn’t a massive departure for Thompson but it’s one that will sit well with fans old and new. Personally, I liked it more than Invicta and it’s uncommon for a side project to top the main focus. For that reason alone My Heavy is worth picking up, and you can do so below.
Rating – 7.5/10
Buy / stream it here: http://thiefclubband.bandcamp.com/album/my-heavy