Published Apr 17, 2019Liverpool pop trio Stealing Sheep are delivering Big Wows, their third record and first since 2015's Not Real; its lengthy gestation period was the result of collaborations with multiple producers in search of the album's sound.
Taut and built upon arpeggiated synths coupled with a prominent rhythm section, the album pokes fun at our over-stimulated reality, while commenting on the struggles we face to retain individuality and authenticity. From its first note, Big Wows bursts into a kaleidoscope of sound, "Show Love" grappling with vulnerability, as the band's interwoven harmonies ask: "Do you think we'll wake up feeling like we've changed?"
Bouncy pop is juxtaposed with sarcasm on lead single, "Jokin' Me," heard in the vocal, "I've seen this before, I know how it ends: 'He's all I got,' she just says," before launching into a refrain encapsulating the obsessive culture that online dating feeds into: "Do you think about me, think about me, think about me?" repeats ad nauseum into the chorus.
The album's title track is a bass-led workout flowing from one dreamy melody to the next, as vocals from Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer harmonize effortlessly. At first, its lyrics question the innocence of youth, before harnessing naivety as a strength. Imbued with melancholy, steel pans trace the melody of "Choose Like You." It stands out as a deceptively simple yet important statement about one's autonomy: "Just 'cause I don't live like you, and choose the way you do," is the central refrain, building upon pensive synths before transforming into an upbeat assertion.
Stealing Sheep harness programmed sounds to underlie necessary messages about retaining one's sense of self in what can be a hyperactive world. The reflection in their lyrics allows Big Wows' production to roam freely through worlds of pop and dance, anchored yet escapist. (Heavenly)