The Steal - Bright Grey (Cover Artwork)

The Steal

Bright Grey (2008)


The Steal's debut album was a surprise highlight for British hardcore in 2006. Wearing its influences clearly on its sleeve, their Kid Dynamite-infused hardcore ripped through 14 tracks in just over 20 minutes. Fast-forward two years and only a handful of tour dates later, the Steal release their sophomore effort, Bright Grey, and musically little has changed. Recorded in just two days, anyone that loved the spontaneous urgency of the first record will not be disappointed; this is a whirlwind record from start to finish.

The opening track, "The Possibilities Are Endless" sets the tone of Bright Grey right from the off; with its frantic guitars and catchy gang vocals it's pretty obvious what will be delivered over the course of the next 13 tracks. What the Steal manage to do is keep the songs concise and packed with energy, ensuring that none of the usual pitfalls that can plague hardcore records such as repetitiveness end up on show here. In fact, it's hard not to hit repeat and listen to the whole of Bright Grey again once it's finished. However, it is definitely darker in tone compared to their debut -- everything from the song titles to the album art hint that all is not right in the Steal camp. The Plot to Blow up the Eiffel Tower-esque track "Repeat" is a fine example of this with lyrics that are spat out and guitars that verge on the cusp of messy.

The biggest difference that Bright Grey has over the self-titled effort is the subject matter of the lyrics. They still continue with the DIY theme but it's all gotten a little serious. It was the Steal's ability not to take themselves too seriously which helped the debut sound like four friends creating music that they wanted to rock out to. Of course, it's a lot easier to do this when the band is a side project, like the Steal, with no expectations to become full-time. It seems the one problem they had going into recording was the success of the debut heaped more pressure on constant touring and recording, and is shown in lyrics like "Hello friends it's been too long / we know you miss this / but if you think we'd like to do this all the time you'd be wrong!" This isn't the only instance on the album when they hint that playing and touring in a hardcore band is not as appealing to them as maybe it was in the past, but who's to say that the members ever wanted the Steal to become full-time.

That being said, it's still a cracking listen, and technically it sounds better than the debut and the backing vocals are well-timed and delivered with much more venom. Hopefully this isn't the end of the Steal, but if it is, then they've left two excellent hardcore albums that I can find little fault with. I can certainly recommend Bright Grey to anyone that enjoys their music fast, hard and over before you know it.