Sound: From the first track of their debut album Ordinary Riches, Chicago band Company Of Thieves set a soulful tone, with powerful, anxious vocals over driving percussion, tense strings, and faintly distorted guitars. From this point, however, the album does little to continue to define itself, opting instead for a less-than-exciting, relaxed, slightly soulful sound that never really quite takes off. Despite the Norah Jones/Jenny Lewis-esque vocals and music reminiscent of a more laid back version of Spoon, it fails to grab the listener and truly define itself as remarkable. Sure, Company of Thieves has plenty of talent, but fail to realize their full potential without a winning formula. // 5
Lyrics: The strong point of the album truly is vocalist Genevieve Schatz's vocals. Schatz brings a very soothing, soulful, drawling sound to the table, singing in a style that would sound more appropriate on a blues/jazz album. In fact, it is nearly impossible to listen to her without drawing comparisons to singer Norah Jones. But there-in lies the true problem with the album the components just don't fit. Though Schatz' voice is great, it just doesn't fit with the less-than-special, standard indie sound of the rest of the band, rendering her talent into something that is just not as convincing as it could be.
Lyrically, Ordinary Riches largely succeeds in impressing the listener. Going so far as to even incorporate biting Oscar Wilde quotes (on their breakthrough song Oscar Wilde), the band wins back some credibility. Even if not always their own writing, Company Of Thieves accomplishes far more lyrically than they do sonically. // 7
Overall Impression: Despite all talents and efforts to the contrary, Ordinary Riches falls short of truly defining itself in today's seemingly endless flow of new indie releases. While Genevieve Schatz has a lovely, soulful voice, the rest of the music never lives up to her, rendering the album less than spectacular. While Company Of Thieves do deliver some decent songs, namely Oscar Wilde, the folksy Quiet On The Front, and the more driving The Fire Song, their debut album can be summed up with the following comparison: no matter how hard you may try, 2 plus 2 will never equal 5. // 6
- Chris McDonald (c) 2009