Accident(s), the new album by Seattle’s Sneaky Thieves, could be the accompanying soundtrack to a book written in the early 1800’s by Thomas De Quincey called Confessions of An English Opium Eater. The fourteen eerily exquisite tracks feel like the erosion of a brilliant mind during the addict’s constant internal battle. At times euphoric, warm, and inviting, but mostly dark, lonely, and slightly distressing. Like De Quincey’s accounts, alternating between bouts of alienating paranoia and “celestial” dreamlike states.
Listen to the Sneaky Thieves song Nothing Nothing , off the album Accident(s) while you read this review! Click on the play button in the Galaxy Media Player above and to the right.
Think of the feeling you get when alone and awake late at night you start to ponder the inevitability of your own death and your helplessness to stop it. The fear. The chill. Moments on this album capture that feeling perfectly, especially with headphones. In fact, the Sneaky Thieves are extremely gifted at capturing and even more so at creating moods and emotion.
Songs focus on dreams and nightmares, reflections and regrets, and drug abuse and addiction. The ambient Elegy even sounds like falling asleep. This is a moody record, give it some time. With A Smile In A Suit sets the stage for what to expect with acoustic guitar, dobro, and bass melding with samples and soft piano. “Quiet now broken heart, we were children then,” Freddy Bale sings in the acoustic hallucination of Quiet. He’s equal parts David Bowie and David Byrne with a bunch of Nick Cave and a bit of Thom Yorke. It’s somewhere between the solo work of Yorke and that of Mark Lanegan. To put it simply, there’s a lot of stuff going on in these songs. I found myself making random noises with household items and playing along to the ones that really get going. There are little gems in all of them. I love the bass-line in Nothing, Nothing before Bale’s Lanegan like growl kicks in over his own backup vocals. “When you die you are nothing, won’t you wake me up from this,” he begs before a few measures of crisp piano.
As good as the first half of the album is, after the acoustic interlude of Melding (prologue) and some backtracked vocal samples, the male/female duet of The Discarded welcomes you to the superior second half. It’s like waking up and falling back asleep into even weirder and wilder dreams. “Just look in my eyes…there’s something missing,” Bale suggests in The Din. Forgotten sounds like a murder scene with it’s suspenseful buildup and climax, and the noisy jam in the semi-straightforward banjo twang of The Point Is This… brings the tension to a new level. As the album grasps towards an end with Bale’s last gasp “The way you look at me when I speak, I feel like I’m losing my face,” you feel like you do in those moments right before waking up; when you finally realize you are dreaming and you want nothing more than to make the nightmare stop. Then you wake up.