After releasing a string of EPs and singles between 2014 and 2019, Toronto post-punk trio Bike Thiefs have pulled off the impressive feat of signing to Stomp Records and releasing their début full-length album Leaking – all during the year 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic! The result is catchy and toe-tapping music, which doesn’t quite stand out as groundbreaking, but it’s a fun listen!
On their website and social media, the band uses the word “chatty” to describe themselves. I don’t think I could have found a better adjective. Bike Thiefs’ sound revolves around guitarist/vocalist Marko Woloshyn’s lyrics, which seem like dialogue stripped of one of its halves. His guitar lines often match his vocal melodies note-for-note, creating a megaphone effect to emphasize certain phrases. “Chatty” makes a lot of sense because Marko’s singing so often sounds like one half of a conversation overheard from afar. This aesthetic is especially apparent on tracks like “Hockey Dad,” “Limbo in the Kitchen” and “Ideas Guy.”
Marko’s lyrical content is as varied and interesting as it is “chatty.” The scarcity of repetition and the scope of his vocabulary are reminiscent of the Talking Heads’ David Byrne.
Of course, the music itself has little resemblance to the Talking Heads’ brand of funky, psychedelic rock. A closer musical comparison may be with Nirvana. Behind Marko are bassist Kris Pandierada and drummer Andrew Fasken, whose performances on this album leave nothing to be desired but also don’t break much new ground – they form a rock-solid rhythm section in the style of grunge. Meanwhile, Marko, without wreaking havoc on his vocal cords like Kurt Cobain used to, manages to inject his own brand of tastefully dissonant lead guitar. He also (coincidentally?) plays a Fender Jaguar!
Overall, this is a fun album, and fully deserves a listen, but it may fall short of a spot on people’s replay lists. It just sounds too much like other 2000s and 2010s post-punk to really get the imagination going. However, Bike Thiefs may become a band to look out for in the near future!
Written by Henri Brillon
*Edited by Dominic Abate