Streetlight Manifesto – The Hands That Thieve (2013)
A much-awaited album, mostly due to Streetlight Manifesto’s dispute with Victory records, which involved Victory Records withholding copies of the album for the band and their fans’ preorders, the attempted release, leak and blocking of an acoustic version of the album by lead singer, Tomas Kalnoky, and almost 6-month delay between the initial proposed release date and the final release.
Streetlight Manifesto are nominally a ska-punk, hailing from New Jersey, USA, and have been at this game since 2002.
Ska-punk? Ska-punk? I’ve done my fair share of skanking, I can tell you, and I have a bone to pick with this genre. I don’t know if others have noticed this (I’m sure you have), but do you recognise a definite change in the genre since the mid-to-late 90s? Where the “ska” element is almost non-existent? A kind of skate- or pop-punk with horns, with only lip service to the ska part? It’s more of a derivative form. It’s not really criticism, more an observation. I don’t want to be a genre-bore, but I feel that Streetlight Manifesto more rightly belong in this “post-ska punk” genre.
As I say, this isn’t a criticism; after all genres are descriptive and not prescriptive; at least, they’re not supposed to be.
I feel it is almost a little more unfair to place this at Streetlight Manifesto’s feet, because they do incorporate a lot of different music styles from around the world on their albums, and The Hands That Thieve is no exception. There is almost an Irish folk punk vibe at the beginning of The Littlest Things, while If Only For The Memories has a completely Latin vibe to it. In fact, traditional folk is well represented, with many tracks taking influence.
Which leads me to the next point. Punk. While Streetlight Manifesto are undeniably punk, by modern American standards, we are not talking UK Subs or Crass here. At their most punky, I am reminded a lot of early 90s NoFX, I mean an awful lot! And perhaps, between that and the “ska” sound, they have taken influence from NoFX, certainly not a bad band to take influence from. However, it is not NoFX i am most reminded of; in fact it isn’t a punk band I am most reminded of. No, I am most reminded of They Might Be Giants, almost consistently through the entire album.
An album that to me sounds like a combination of NoFX and They Might Be Giants? Well, that’s has to amount to a whole heap of fun; and it does! An upbeat and cheery album, pretty enjoyable.
Favourite tracks: The Littlest Things, If Only For The Memories
Spotify link: Streetlight Manifesto – The Hands That Thieve