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Pop - Released April 19, 2019 | Heavenly Recordings

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The third album by the London trio Stealing Sheep finishes the transition from brooding folk-rock to sparkling modern pop that began on 2015's Not Real. Almost the only thing that remains from their early days as a group are the bewitching vocal harmonies that Rebecca Hawley, Emily Lansley, and Lucy Mercer spin as easily as they breathe. Big Wows is a bright and shiny modern pop album that's full of bleeping synths, rubbery dance beats, and big fat hooks. The trio took their time crafting the songs and putting together sounds, then called in producers who had worked with artists like Björk, Christine and the Queens, and, crucially, Metronomy to help deliver the finished product. Metronomy are an important connection because, like that very fine group, Stealing Sheep are skilled at mixing the warmth of voices with the slickness of machines, and they write great tunes as well. Basically everything here sounds like an improved version of the pop sounds on the radio in the late 2010s, whether it's stomping glitter-ball disco ("Jokin Me"), down-tempo balladry ("Just Dreaming"), skittering electro-pop ("Breathe"), clipped synth pop ("Why Haven't I?"), or slithering R&B ("Show Love"). There's not a weak song or wasted moment to be found; the trio write with a lovely economy of emotion and have sharpened their hook-making skills to a very fine point. And it goes almost without saying that their voices are brilliant, both on their own and when harmonizing. They certainly prove just as adept at singing big pop songs as they were at murky folk-rock. The combination of their voices, the variety of sounds they whip up, and the skill with which they put it all together adds up to an ecstatic, sleek, fun, and endlessly entertaining album that works perfectly as an antidote to the sterility of much of the modern pop it emulates and ultimately puts to shame. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 3, 2012 | Heavenly Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 13, 2015 | Heavenly Recordings

On their 2012 debut, Liverpool psych-pop trio Stealing Sheep perfected the self-described "Medieval Kraut-folk" that they'd introduced two years prior via a trio of well-received EPs. Not Real, the band's sophomore long-player, eschews that penchant for pairing brooding, heathen folk-rock with shimmery, late-'90s dream pop in favor of a more accessible approach that seasons their circular harmonies and serpentine melodies with liberal dollops of icy electronica. More Alt-J than Smoke Fairies, the ten-track set manages to retain the offbeat lyricism and subtle, supernatural vibe of its predecessor, but Rebecca Hawley, Emily Lansley, and Lucy Mercer are clearly attempting to expand their sonic palette (as well as reach a broader audience) this time around. The album opens in fine form with the glossy, club-ready "Sequence," a lineal, post-midnight blast of glacial synth-pop that falls somewhere between Wild Beasts and Warpaint. The pulsing, ghostly "Apparition" and the meaty, off-kilter title cut follow suit, but things begin to shift with the dizzying "This Time," a Lush and Broadcast-inspired, neo-Brit-pop gem that wraps a nervy, elastic guitar line around a simple two-chord melody that, once deposited into the listener's ear canal, sets up permanent residence. The elliptical "Greed" navigates similar aural pathways with its insistent, raga-like melody and incantation of "greed, you're everything I want, but not what I need," as does the spartan "Evolve and Expand," a macabre, Twin Peaks-ian ballad that pairs a lone, finger-picked guitar with Hawley, Lansley, and Mercer's distinctive and spectral harmonies. Not Real ends up more or less back where it started, with "Love" and "She" mirroring the punchy, '80s retro-pop of its beginnings, but it never fails to engender a sense of unease. Despite their best efforts to thwart it, Stealing Sheep's intoxicating otherworldliness ultimately wins out. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 3, 2012 | Heavenly Recordings