13 Jun 2015

Stealing Sheep / Not Real (album review)

OK so we've got a load of new Vapour Trail writers, and the latest of these is Darcy, from West Byfleet (near London). This is her first post, and it's the review of an album that we missed when it came out, but absolutely adore! Here's a review of the latest Stealing Sheep album, out now on Heavenly Records

Stealing Sheep are a psych/folk pop three piece with sparky guitars, synths and hypnotic, tribal sounding drums. They are my current obsession, with their quirky style and dreamlike existential atmosphere. They're a band made up of three cool as hell girls from Liverpool (Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer) who dress in wacky and colourful clothing. The Sheep expand on the typical drums, bass and guitar band with the wide range of instruments including a variety of synths/effects/electric guitars/drums etc. I recently saw them live at Lennon’s, Southampton and was so in awe of their performance that I thought I'd review their new album Not Real

Their album varies from having a slightly creepy edge to beautiful harmonic vocals frequently, and the band on the whole are a great band to listen to if you’re feeling like you need to explore your own mind a bit, with their psychotropic lyrics such as "don’t let the day time fool you that you’re not real" heard from the title track Not Real. I love their mind-expanding lyrics and feel like their music allows you to create visions and thoughts so you can just really get lost in the music. I listened to this album when I was laying on my bed with incense burning which really complimented the kaleidoscopic sounds of the band.

The band fuses styles of other genres of music from all over the world, such as Latin and Indian music, within the melodic phrases and their folk style really compliments the psych sound. 

The album consists of 10 psychedelic folk style songs, which are often complimented by prominent synthesisers, really creating a more spacey/psychedelic edge. Sequence is the first song to be heard, opening with a spacey synth fade in, a bass synth sound and a driving drumbeat. All three girls are prominent in the vocals, each taking on different roles of harmony. The interlocking melodic parts of the song create a polyphonic texture, which instantly creates an interesting sound. Stealing Sheep’s tracks contain features of house and dance music with the many synthesised timbres used, which compliment the general psych-folk sound. 

Of the other highlights, the song Greed reminds me of (label mates) Temples, not so much in the realms of sound, but more so the melodic pattern. 

The album ends with the song She which includes an interesting change in rhythm and speed and leading to a shuffled 4/8 time signature. The airy vocal effects over the chorus really compliment each other.

Then I really love the song Evolve and Expand which features a relaxed minor chord pattern, with dark lyrics that contrast with the soft texture of the guitar, which is plucked throughout the whole of the song. The beautiful harmonised “oohs oohs” contrast with the slightly unsettling guitar lines, creating an eerie effect. This song has an incredibly mysterious and haunting sound to it, which is what I absolutely LOVE about it - it just sounds so different to their other songs, which have more of an upbeat and dancey rhythm to them with powerful and energetic energy. 

If anyone, Stealing Sheep remind me of solo indie artist Soley from Iceland who creates delicate electronic pop, with lots of eerie, unsettling songs and sounds. Evolve and Expand particularly stood out to me as being similar to Soley. Soley's I'll Drown and Ævintýr by Soley particularly stand out to me as being similar. But as I'm sure you'll know if you've seen them live, Stealing Sheep are so much more energetic and using more electronic sounding instruments. 

For me though, the ABSOLUTE BANGERS of this album include; Not Real and Apparition mostly because of their memorable lyrics, and danceable psychotropic passages.

A good example of one of these songs is Apparition, which starts kicks off the song with a spirituous drive. This album differs slightly from their first album, Into The Diamond Sun because their performance levels have improved massively and their textures have improved in thickness and detail. They’ve also added interesting filters like low pass filters, which makes the Sheep sound like they’re underwater which is evident in Evolve and Expand.

OVERALL I just love Stealing Sheep and all they do, they are the loveliest people too! After I saw them in Southampton we spoke to Emily Lansley for a bit and told her how inspirational they were and how they were so fantastic and we got a group hug from her, beautiful people who make beautiful music.