Record Review: Noah & The Paper Moon by Stealing Sheep

Indie festivals (Standon Calling, Secret Garden Party) and DJ’s (Lauren Laverne, Tom Ravenscroft, Radio 1 Live Lounge sessions) brought Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep to my attention this summer. Mostly I’ve heard their music labelled as Folk so I’ve been keenly awaiting further material to see how they fit in the folk resurgence evident this year.

Stealing Sheep album shot

Tagging them as Folk feels too simplistic for a band creating something layered, textured, complicated, synths, lo-fi. Experimental recording techniques using retro cassettes and finding abandoned schools in their hometown to record in have delivered something haunting and vintage. Think Miss Haversham in your attic.

Yes, there are traditional sounding folk tracks evident. I Am The Rain fantastically sounds like Fleet Foxes have the raging hump about something (I’m not sure what, perhaps their favourite jumper has frayed and unravelled).

Yet other tracks, such as Noah’s Day and Secrets sound like Beck could have played a strong hand in the production. Electronic, Kitsch, Repetitive to a point of hypnosis (in a good way).

It’s Paper Moon that really stands out here. A blend of sour and sweet, night and day. There’s a skulking melancholia that gives you the shivers, yet the chorus is a clap-a-long, bright burst of sunshine. It feels like you’ve been shoved on to a ghost train that one second is hell bent on making you face your darkest fears to then give you a hug and your favourite sweets at the next junction.

For this I have to bow down to Stealing Sheep for being bold enough to take their tracks through an unpredictable maze. Being plummeted into a sound that is a times 60’s psychedelic, other times pop, classic folk, always with an element of darkness. Heavenly Recordings have uncovered yet another bizarre and brilliant band.

Stealing Sheep have only been writing together since 2010 and have already produced tunes that are truly a breath of fresh air, albeit on a bleak, grey morning that you have to face alone. They’ll see you through it though.

Listen to them if you like The Breeders, Warpaint, Beck, Fleet Foxes, Pentangle

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