Toronto’s post-punk noiseniks Bike Thiefs are instantly likeable underdogs who sound as though they’ve thrown everything they have into debut album, Leaking.
Having followed them since their 2012 self-released CDr days, that comes as no surprise. With a line-up pivoting around constant member guitarist-vocalist Marko Woloshyn, Bike Thiefs early DIY EPs Bloated and These Things Happen All The Time (highly recommended and still available on Bandcamp) now sound like triage for the current power trio of Woloshyn, bassist Kris Pandierada and drummer Andrew Fasken. Newly-signed to Montreal ska/punk label Stomp Records, here the band digs deeper into the intrigue of those early songs, dredging the chintz and trash of suburban life, existentialism and the death of common decency. If you ever found yourself wondering what Kierkegaard’s favourite Superchunk song would be, or what a Metz tribute to Modest Mouse’s angst-ridden debut This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About might sound like, then chances are Bike Thiefs will pique your interest.
From the crushing opener ‘Hockey Dad’, a song about the exhausting unpredictability of a friend trying to deal with drug addiction, to the discordant working class self-loathing of ‘Flyover State’, the anti-consumerist ‘Hallelujah, Again’, and the alt-right baiting spleen-venting of ‘Comment Section’, Bike Thiefs do not shy away from the big questions. Elsewhere, even the disarmingly poppy ‘Connie’s Got A New Phone’ and epic instant-fix rock hooks of ‘Limbo in the Kitchen’ barely conceal the band’s intentions. Album highlights ‘You’re Allowed Your Feelings’ and ‘Financial Cancer’ press the same nihilistic buttons as The Cramps‘ ‘Sunglasses After Dark’ or Black Flag ‘Rise Above’, maybe not in any musical sense, but in the raw energy channeled. In the squally jumble of guitars, skittish drums and false-flag-burning lyricism, there’s a sense that Leaking is the perfect SNAFU soundtrack and Woloshyn and co have your back.
Describing themselves as a ‘chatty post-punk’ band we thought it would be a good idea to offer Bike Thiefs some space to describe the album tracks themselves. Their summary wastes no words. Like Leaking, it’s epigrammatic and keenly observed while dropping all kinds of curious references that reel you into their world.
1. Hockey Dad
“I was a hockey dad, crushed dreams and Coors light”
This is where we started experimenting with many layers and synths. We wanted to channel The Fall by way of early Oughts.
2. Connie’s Got A New Phone
“She watches reruns. Nursing some box wine. Nursing a black eye. She’s too afraid to leave. But no, she’s not afraid of dying”
The thesis statement of the record. Suburban malaise and languid guitars. (The video is based on a cult that develops around a television celebrity chef and the mundane activities of cooking that can become spiritual rituals.)
3. Flyover State
“My family’s ugly, purebred with peanut allergies, blowing on the air horn of Reagan pageantry”
We were listening to a lot of Dismemberment Plan. We wanted to capture that style of disaffected vocals, hovering over the twitchy percussion.
4. Limbo in the Kitchen
Existential arena rock. We added some fun percussive elements and got carried away with a step sequencer that sounded like MS Dos.
5. You’re Allowed Your Feelings
“We stream an episode, we dress in matching clothes, steal from department stores. Godammit I’m free in three beers deep”
Marko liked the way the riff looked on the guitar. We intentionally left a lot of space between guitar and vocals to let that rhythm section pummel the listener. It’s a good transitional song from our older style to where we’re heading. It acted as a stylist bridge between this record and the last EP.
6. Financial Cancer
We’re really proud of these lyrics. Marko spent hours researching the collapse of the auto industry in 2008 in order to get a single line right for this character. When demoing the song we burned an afternoon tracking a sadistic amount of guitar layers. We thought record producer Josh Korody was going to kill us, but he was on board.
7. Ideas Guy
This is Kris’s mom favorite song. Luckily she doesn’t know it’s about teenagers hoovering cheap drugs in the suburbs.
8. Hallelujah Again
“Now the Mickey Mouse Club sings Bird on the Wire, what a day.”
This song is about the commodification of celebrity death. Marko worked at a record store for a number of years, and suffice to say that Whitney Houston’s overdose filled their quota that winter.
9. Comment Section
“Holy War. Civic Pride. Marching Band. Party Time… I’m entitled to my God, my guns.”
This is Josh Korody’s favourite song. It has a little more teeth on it. It helps balance some of the hookier parts of the album.
Our hot take on the narcissism and isolation perpetuated by social media.
‘Leaking’ is released 30th October via Stomp Records (Canada).