Let’s cut right to the chase: if you like Hit The Lights, you’re going to like vocalist Nick Thompson’s side project Thief Club. Thompson knows what works for his voice, and it is this confidence in his style that makes his solo album shine. Produced with Rob Freeman, who also produced the Hit The Lights LP Skip School, Start Fights, there are some obvious similarities in sound to the 2004 record. But add in some gritty guitar work, gripping melodies, and guest vocals from Will Pugh and Shane Henderson, and Thompson proves that Thief Club is easily able to stand on its own.
My Heavy starts with the short and sweet “Brand New Ways” but dives into the fast paced flurry of “Fragile Eyes” with no hesitation. From the first minute, the drums furiously keep the pace as Thompson sings his quick, forceful verses. He starts, “Oh fragile eyes, how can it be you now rely on these machines for life?” but battles it in the steadier chorus with “I’ll fight the angels myself before they can take you from me.” Thompson has noted that the song is about his sister being in an induced coma and the fear surrounding the fragility of life in a hospital. Despite the song’s background, its rapid beat keeps this song from feeling weighed down.
“Follow You” and “Slow Ride” add a lighthearted, youthful feel to the album. Thompson and former Valencia frontman Shane Henderson recount searching out trouble and sneaking out late in “Follow You” singing the memorable hook, “Like steel and rust left to the weather / We were dangerous working together.” This song is all about the familiar energy known as youth and the feeling that anything is possible. Immediately following is the more relaxed “Slow Ride,” a carefree track about the romance of being purposefully lost.
The crown jewel of the record comes with its title track, “My Heavy.” This song lives up to its name: heavy, gritty, nearly harsh–but so very satisfying, especially when pop rock king Will Pugh of Cartel lends his vocals midway through. The song packs a catchy punch that is irresistible but also inspiring. The lyrics dive into the deeply personal inner battle of blame and accountability, and ultimately the realization that the only way to change the situation you’re in is to move on. The closing lines frame Thompson’s state of mind perfectly: “I can be faithless, so damn jaded, so frustrated, filled with doubt / Stressed and hating how I fucked this up, and I’ll never live it down / But I’m honest, constant, faithful, and I’ll never let you down / This is my heavy, this is my everything.” It’s not a song you’ll be getting out of your head anytime soon.
“Knew Your Name” is a typical, bitter song about wishing the worst for an ex. Thompson writes some witty lines like “Maybe you’d walk into oncoming traffic / Maybe you’d choke on some lie that you told.” Even if you have no one you wish would fall off a ten-storey building, the song is impossibly catchy and fun to jam to.
The record is truly all about balance. From the strong melody on “The First Place” and the pop feel of “DMT,” to the heavier, more rhythmic “Fragile Eyes” and “Weight With You,” My Heavy covers a lot of ground while still managing to sound cohesive. Thompson ties the tracks together with his classic pop punk vocals and relatable lyrics, many of which come from personal stories (Thompson has even provided detailed background stories on the project’s website). Though the record is in fact heavy as the title suggests, it’s also intimate. It’s clear that the writing for this album came from a place of anger and frustration for Thompson, but it brought inspiration to the table. Without that, My Heavy could be a completely different record — or not exist at all. Thompson shows that some of the greatest art can come from an unpleasant place.