Written by: PP on 24/09/2012 09:03:50

Thieves from Austin, Texas have just released what is arguably the most surprising album of 2012 in "Achiever", a tour de force of awesome pop punk that escapes the limited confines of the genre rules and traditions, and breaks new ground through a unique and innovative expression that is finally the breath of fresh air the genre has been in dire need for in a while now. "Achiever" is a concept album about an overachieving young professional who dedicates his entire life into becoming the best and in the meantime misses out on everything else life has to offer. This concept is developed in detail throughout the record to almost the same kind of intricacy as Junior Battles' brilliant "Idle Ages" from last year, and is enveloped in a similar unpredictable and constantly varying expression that refuses to stick to a single formula.

The concept is mostly delivered at lightning speed tempos that recall the infectious energy of Caleb Lionheart, but also through creative and unique songwriting that blends together elements from pop-hardcore, melodic hardcore, and straight up pop punk into an explosive cocktail of dynamic riffs and maddeningly catchy melodies. The ripping guitar leads of With The Punches have likely been an influence, but likewise the more hardcore rooted approach of Such Gold (or Strike Anywhere for that matter) is prominently audible. It's a combination of styles and influences that results into a fresh and unpredictable sound, where crazy riffs can all of a sudden be met by a violin only for a brief moment, or sudden tempo changes where a breakneck speed song suddenly transforms into a slow, sparkling ambient section to highlight a particular lyrical passage. There are even moments where the guitars reach into post-rock style crescendos for brief moments. Likewise, the vocals range from high-pitch pop punk ones to emotionally charged croons (think The Wonder Years) to harsh screams (Such Gold style), so you never really know what's coming next. It keeps the sound interesting and is the main reason why "Achiever" comes across as such an original and forward-thinking record compared to its peers.

Songs like "Broken Down, Breaking Ground" are irresistible in the vocal department, and elsewhere the guitars answer the call such as on "Quarter Life Crisis", which has one of the most innovative and hands-down awesome lead riffs I've heard on a pop punk record in ages. When people talk about 'ripping' leads, the main riff of this song is exactly what you should be expecting. I could go on and on mentioning moments that stand out from the record, but there are simply too many to name on this record. It speaks volumes of the band's talent when the two-minute, all-instrumental outro track "Believer" echoes the instantly recognizable vocal melodies of opening track "Achiever" through guitars only. I'll just leave you with that thought with the expectation that you'll be checking out this record to see what I mean. Pop punk won't come any better than Thieves in 2012, I dare almost guarantee that.

Download: Achiever, Quarter Life Crisis, Broken Down Breaking Ground
For the fans of: Caleb Lionheart, With The Punches, Such Gold, Junior Battles
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 31.07.2012
Vagabond Collective

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