Streetlight Manifesto - The Hands That Thieve

10 songs
51:55 minutes
***** ****


It is rather unusual that a band decides to have an album cover without the band name and the album title on it. This is the case for the fifth album by ska punk band Streetlight Manifesto from New Jersey. Maybe this is just a very cunning advertising gimmick by a successful band that has already sold more worldwide more than a quarter million albums.

Five years ago, I saw one of their live shows and was totally enthralled by the vigorous septet which has next to the traditional rock instruments also trombone, trumpet and different kinds of saxophones in their repertoire. Streetlight Manifesto are one of the few bands able to capture the spirit of their live shows without any loss into their studio recordings.

The band took five long years after their last regular album Somewhere In The Between to come up with a new album of all new and original material. But even after more than ten years of band history, there are still no signs of fatigue. Frontman Tomas Kalnoky is often the focal point of attention, and especially on the first tracks of the new CD, he comes across as a regular ADHD person. He is singing without seeming to take breath in between sentences. The faster tracks have been put this time at the beginning of the CD, but they always have room for slower parts that are inspired by reggae and singer/songwriter music. The punk component harmonised perfectly with the numerous brass parts, as can be heard best on Ungrateful and on the title track which reminds me of the band’s über-hit One Foot On The Gas, One Foot In The Grave. Those of you familiar with Streetlight Manifesto’s past know that melancholic elements are always keen to surge. This is best done on If Only For Memories with its Tex-Mex touch and on Toe To Toe with its strong New Orleans flair.

One could accuse the band of not having changed considerably over the last five years, and that wouldn’t be wrong. But after such a long time, it is really great to hear new music from Streetlight Manifesto. In my opinion, The Hands That Thieve lives up to the greatness of the band’s earlier efforts.

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