Finer Feelings #9: Nic Armstrong & The Thieves – The Greatest White Liar (2005)

There were months at a time where I listened to this album every single day.  In fact, I’m already overdue to listen to it again.  What initially sounds like just another band of snotty British yobs turns out to be a salute to the iconic rock of the 1960s.  What’s impressive here is how, of the album’s 15 tracks, 13 are originals.  What’s more impressive is that the originals don’t sound like originals.  Call them rip offs, I like to think of songs like “Too Long For Her” and “In Your Arms On My Mind” as being tributes to the acoustic balladry of A Hard Day’s NightThe Greatest White Liar’s strengths are also in its musical depth.  “She Changes Like The Weather” seems like a pleasant, lightly brisk ditty until the key and tempo begin to shift into darker, more tumultuous territory (not unlike the titular lady).  Rave-ups are very plentiful, the best being the Yardbirds-inflected “On A Promise” (which also has some great time shifts), and the breakout “Broken Mouth Blues,” which sounds like a lost track from Blonde On Blonde.  All these musical allusions play like a game of I Spy, yet the originality that all these songs possess keep the band from being too blatantly derivative.  The variety of songs keeps things fresh, too: “Scratch The Surface” is a jaunty skiffle number while “Back In That Room” is a fiery stomp.  Nic Armstrong later renamed his group IV Thieves, and it was under that name that they released the incredibly bland If We Can’t Escape My Pretty, a disc so devoid of White Liar’s charm that it almost had to come from a band with a different name.  Whether you like it or not, we’ll probably never get another album like The Greatest White Liar, though it still stands as recorded proof that Nic Armstrong can be one hell of a songwriter.

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~ by E. on November 24, 2009.

One Response to “Finer Feelings #9: Nic Armstrong & The Thieves – The Greatest White Liar (2005)”

  1. In 2005, “Broken Mouth Blues” was one of those songs that caught my attention and stood out among all of the boring, sound-alike songs on alternative radio. You are right on with your review. Great album. Maybe Nic Armstrong needs to listen to it as much as you did.

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