Stealing Sheep – Not Real

Not RealStealing Sheep are back with a big second record. After a very accomplished debut in 2012's Into The Diamond Sun, these three art-y Liverpool women were brought to the attention of many a-blog as champions of the so called ‘pagan pop revival’. Fresh from the studio is new album Not Real, which raises the bar in so many delightful ways, taking things onto a logical and natural progression sonically. It seems Stealing Sheep's bold decision to self-produce this record has paid off in a near perfect and deeply rich album of creativity and pop prowess. This is yet another great new British band to be proud of, as Liverpool once again comes up with something special.

Not Real starts with a bouncy electro bass hook on "Sequence", which could potentially have come from Jacques Lu Cont’s classic Les Rhythmes Digitales guise, before carrying onto the crisp beat of "Apparition", an 80s gothic tinged ghost-like track with a mysterious male backing vocal. Remixes abound for that one, but the album progresses towards dance pop proper with title track and first single "Not Real". Along with following track, "This Time", "Not Real" is actually the weakest on display here. To be fair they’re actually both good songs; it’s just the remainder of the album move into a whole new stratosphere of excellence. "Greed" goes into a gritty, sullen possible interpretation of Warpaint’s "Billie Holiday" with a peyote entranced chant, delicate eastern vibes and snake like synth. “You’re everything I want, but not what I need, Sometimes the truth is hard to find”; epic lyrics that take the haunted ghosts of Jim Morrison and Lou Reed into today’s technological world to create a love song with plenty of menace and enough luscious lace to lure a tiger.

Onto "Deadlock", which is an absolute monster. It feels like a bastardized deconstruction of All Saints' "The Beach" fused with Sugababes first and best ever single "Overload". This is solemn yet subtly hopeful Britain pre-general election 2015. It’s a ‘deadlock’ situation: who on Earth knows where we’re headed, but with tunes like this in our ears, it’s clear we’re going to be just fine, like we always are. "Evolve And Expand" has a lush acoustic feel with so much texture, the 50s exotica inspiration shines through like Elvis coming back from a Hawaiian holiday only to find he has to go and work for the next year before he’ll see sun and sand again. So moodily gorgeous it bears repeating.

The last three tracks take us into more familiar Stealing Sheep electronica dream pop territory. It’s all layered with dexterity as the trigger samples, effected synth and other processed sounds melt around and into their enchanting voices until it’s all just one big sonic waterfall of blissful joy.  Go Stealing Sheep.

Release: 13th April 2015, Heavenly Recordings

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