After modest success in their native Oxford, England, with 2002's staid alt-rock debut, One Eyed Poker, the Thieves -- guitarist/singer Hal Stokes, bassist Sam Stokes, and drummer Jamie Dawson -- began distilling a stiff blend of U.K. pub rock and cutting power pop. Recording in England with producer Lenny Franchi in early 2004, the Thieves struck pay dirt with the song "Tales from the White Line," a big rock anthem brimming with big guitar hooks, rumbling basslines, power drumming, and Hammond organ accents. Moving to Los Angeles, the Thieves hit Royaltone Studios with burgeoning producer/engineer Chris Brown (Radiohead, Muse), resulting in a four-song EP, The White Line. Between sessions with Brown and a relentless touring schedule (kept even when Stokes severely broke an ankle), the full album Tales from the White Line was completed in 2005. From the steely opening riff of "Gimme Some Lip" to the funky slide guitar jam of "Silverliner," Tales is awash with affable Brit harmonies and delights in unabashed, snap-tight songwriting. "You Get It Easy," "This Road (It Never Leaves Us)," "Everynite," and "Don't You Lose Me" are just a few of the 12 arresting gems also enhanced by the playing of guest keyboardists Rami Jaffee (Wallflowers) and Ben Cullum (brother of Jamie Cullum). The CD package is completed by Kazuto Maekawa's intriguing cover artwork, and the inside liner notes contain charming handwritten lyrics and doodles that blueprint each song. Whether or not the Thieves are ever found guilty of being overly inspired by classic '70s albums by AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and the Who, Tales from the White Line is nevertheless a deviously good rock & roll record.
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AllMusic Review by Craig Curtice