“You almost fooled me when you said/just sell your soul for someone’s gold/maybe then you’ll have a friend.”
So sings Genevieve Schatz on Company of Thieves’ new single, “Death of Communication.” At this point in the Chicago band’s career, no lyric could be more applicable.
Schatz and her bandmates gained mild notoriety on their first release, 2009’s “Ordinary Riches,” delivering stellar performances on “Last Call with Carson Daly” and “Live from Daryl’s House,” a concert show hosted by Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oates fame). But it was clearly just a start. “Ordinary Riches” was full of expertly crafted pop-rock, but contained average performances that belied their live shows. Listening to it, one couldn’t help but think Company of Thieves could put out better recordings the next time around.
With their new album, “Running from a Gamble,” they have. The sophomore effort delivers much more confident performances and stronger production. The self-assured power-pop of “Death of Communication” treads Paramore territory, and will likely snatch a hefty portion of Paramore fans. But Company of Thieves isn’t much like that band, other than a pint-sized female singer with explosive pipes — and they should be careful to avoid mimicry going forward. Misleading singles have created many a one-hit wonder.
Company of Thieves are at their best when they’re playful, dance-able and hopeful. They nail all of the above on “Tallulah,” a neo-soul jam that somehow conjures both Cee Lo Green and Fiona Apple.
But these lighthearted moments are few and far between on “Running from a Gamble.” Instead, there are a lot of slow-burners. Some, like the smoldering “Gorgeous/Grotesque,” are excellent. But there are too many of them, creating a lopsided, laborious album that might not promote Company of Thieves the way they would prefer.
If “Running from a Gamble” reveals anything, it’s that Company of Thieves is still discovering its own sound. The band probably won’t ever sell its soul for someone’s gold — it just hasn’t found what that soul sounds like yet.
Artist: Company of Thieves
Album: Running from a Gamble