The multi-national dark synth-poppers Thieves Like Us take their name from a 1984 single by New Order. While their sound owes pretty heavy debts to the more sullen New Order moments, their fourth full-length, Bleed Bleed Bleed, finds them expanding their scope past "Blue Monday" with a slightly more shoegaze feel and a shift in lineup. Beginning as a trio of DJs-cum-performers, the group expanded membership before work on this record started, adding vocalist Martine Duverglas as well as drummer Dani Imhoff to the mix. Duverglas' harmonies on the bouncy "Marie Marie" breathe life into the track and nudge it into deeper emotional waters. While still more dour than even the bluest M83 dirge, Duverglas makes the song as close to a feel-good anthem as Thieves Like Us is probably capable of. "Memory Song" also benefits from her airy vocal presence. The unnervingly catchy sing-song chorus and twangy direct guitars of "Still Life" are still borrowing pretty heavily from the framework laid by New Order, but there's a newfound depth to the band on Bleed Bleed Bleed that gives these songs their own character; they sound more realized (and subsequently better written) than the by-the-numbers electro pop of earlier efforts. Before this album, the band was still steeped in DJ culture and their music suffered from the pull of too many disparate influences. The processed beats and Daft Punk-style moments are gone now, replaced with much subtler atmospheric shifts. Hints of indie rock à la the uneasy dreaminess of Blonde Redhead creep into "Fatima," while the late-night paranoia of "Your Love Runs Still" or the slinking title track put Thieves Like Us in the same bracket of catchy dark electro-pop as contemporaries like Nite Jewel or the Chromatics. Bleed Bleed Bleed is still more or less a screenplay for some film full of damaged characters who exist in an imagined, seedy Euro nightlife, but the songs feel free of artifice even at their most affected. Thieves Like Us have always aimed to construct a world of strange, disconnected after-hours snapshots with their sounds, but with Bleed Bleed Bleed they've not only committed to that vision whole-heartedly, they've also found a voice of their own with which to transmit it.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas