Company of Thieves’ vibrant debut album sings of change

Ordinary Riches moves effortlessly from the seemingly jaunty, piano-led “In Passing” and the catchy pop tones of “Pressure” to the arena-ready sing-along chorus of “New Letters” and the guitar figures in “Old Letters.” Many of the album’s songs expose influences from other artists and genres – from jazz and Motown to Billie Holiday and the Beatles. Another of the band’s inspirations is Oscar Wilde, whose name serves as a title for a song that draws from the Anglo-Irish author’s critiques of society and culture. In fact, Company of Thieves’ piecing together of different music is where the band got its name, for it is obvious that its members have taken what they know, in a kind of “thievery,” and put their own twist on it. While the influences are at times detectable – a little Fiona Apple angst here, a bit of John Lennon’s social activism there – the band is not a mere mockingbird. The members manage to write and play songs that are catchy without sacrificing credibility.

Company of Thieves also strives to hearken back to a time when songs’ subject matter went beyond hitting the dance floor and hooking up. Time and again, Ordinary Riches presents a cinematic vision of a relationship gone sour or a world in turmoil that speaks to deeper truths. Lyrically, the band explores real-life experiences and how people navigate relationships. As such, its songs are often more outward than inner-looking and are not necessarily first-person but more from the point of view of a camera. The album is largely about the band’s depiction of its worldview and how it sees things today.

That’s not to say, however, that the album is all about abstract emotion. “The Tornado Song,” for example, is an intensely personal song for lead singer Genevieve Schatz – it is based on a dream of her divorced family trying to reunite and is highlighted by a climactic, near-operatic peal of emotion from the gifted singer. It is not a song heard on every pop/rock album, a fact which serves as an example of how the band does not shy away from trying new things.

On Ordinary Riches, Company of Thieves showcases its organic, soothing and vibrant sound. The dreamy lyrics not only showcase the lead singer’s sultry vocals but also create scenes out of pictures and memories that listeners can share. The band’s soulful mix of classic rock and mid-90s alternative bands may be borrowed, but their material is their own, more textured version of the music produced by their favorite artists.

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