Band of the Day

2011.12.21

Thieves Like Us

A multinational, globe-trotting electronic trio that creates pop music for outsiders
Rain is falling down in the streets near our house. We are joined and turned to dust in the fond radiance. And as one we're singing endlessly.
lyrics from Lover Lover

Thieves Like Us are an electro pop trio that formed in Berlin, Germany in 2002 and currently reside in Paris, France. Initially forming a DJ collective based upon their shared interest in Krautrock, Italo disco, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and French house music, Thieves Like Us is the synthesis of their combined musical interests. Thieves Like Us plays modern electro influenced heavily by dark synth pop and post-punk from the 80s. A truly international effort, the group consists of Swedes Björn Berglund (synthesizer) and Pontus Berghe (guitar, drums), and American Andy Grier (guitar, vocals). Thieves Like Us released their first single Drugs In My Body on Paris label Kitsuné Records in 2007. Later that year, they self released their debut LP Berlin, Alex. In 2008, they signed to American label Shelflife Records and released the Play Music LP followed by Again & Again in 2010.

The phrase “Thieves Like Us” has been hopping across the decades, applied to almost every form of media. In 1937, it was a novel by Edward Anderson. In 1974, a film by Robert Altman. Ten years later, a song by New Order. Now, a Swedish-American electronic group has appropriated it as their band name. The multinational trio (vocalist/guitarist Andy Grier is American, while synth-player Björn Berglund and guitarist/drummer Pontus Berghe are both Swedish) first met at Berlin's Mauer Park in 2002, and bonded over a shared interest in Krautrock, Italian disco, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and French house music. Fed up with the type of techno and electro music being played in Berlin, they started DJ-ing, and eventually started Thieves Like Us to create the type of music that they wanted to hear. What they've created is a collection of both New Wave-inspired synth pop hits, and hazy, downtempo electronic dance. Following up their debut album, 2008's Play Music—which included gems like “Your Heart Feels”, “Miss You,” and “Drugs In My Body”—Thieves Like Us have stepped up their game with their sophomore album Again & Again. With its synth-heavy opening, and breathy layers of vocals inspired by The Cocteau Twins, “Never Known Love” sounds like a 1980s version of a soundtrack for space travel. Grier sings ambiguous lyrics like “her blue sea was seeking me/broken dreams were breaking me” before declaring “Still, I've never ever known love.” “Mercy” is darker and hazier, creating an empty and forlorn atmosphere. And lines like, “Won't you come with me?” bring to mind being lost in a spooky labyrinth, trying to avoid being lured into a trap by a spandex-clad David Bowie. Having once been quoted as creating “pop music for outsiders,” Thieves Like Us prove this point in the song “Shyness.” Taking a more upbeat and dance floor-ready approach, it also serves up words of wisdom—that any outsider should be able to relate to—about how getting over shyness is the key to avoiding loneliness: “Shyness, let it go/never have to feel so lonely/shyness, shyness,” advises Grier. Although it's danceable, there is an underlying theme of both the emptiness and excess of a hedonistic lifestyle—a theme that permeates Again & Again. Perhaps this feeling comes from the band's nomadic lifestyle (Play Music, for instance, was recorded in Berlin, London, New York, and Stockholm), planting seeds all over the world without ever really settling. Whatever the case, Thieves Like Us are masters of creating both atmospheric background tunes and dancey foreground tunes that are far from forgettable.