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Summer Thieves - Album Review: Cigarettes in Space

29 Sep 2023 // A review by Roger Bowie

I rediscovered Summer Thieves during the recent Going Global showcases down in the cellars on K Road, and was mightily re-impressed, although slightly irked to discover that I missed their second album during the fog of lockdown.

But not to worry, they are back with their third album Cigarettes in Space which opens with a deeply funk bass riff propping up a Spaceship with echoes of Major Tom translated into modern day thievery. 

Hard to catch these thieves apart from the funk, and the neo reggae influences with a touch of hip-hop, a searing Carlos guitar and an occasional Followill snarl. See what I mean? It’s Funny How the Mind Works, when you try to pinhole these guys, and so I defer to the hairstyle and call it mullet rock wrapped up in a scarf. And remember, I am not the enemy, I can only love the energy.

Woops, here we go in Eurythmics beat with relentless 80’s drumming and here comes Carlos again and we get all intimate Tongue & Cheek. 

These boys started off at school in Dunedin and then became a scarfie favourite around the pubs. Now they are amongst the hardest working bands in New Zealand and are also world famous in Australia, just recently completing a tour in support of LAB. 

Pieces has a driving reggae beat and a sweet tribute to the Stones before we’re off to Bali for the Bali Nights. This reminds me of Fun Lovin’ Criminals with its dream lyrics and punky funky beat and smell of cigarettes, which comes from being lost in space and a 666 roll of de dice which just might have been in Castle St.

Jake Barton has a voice which rasps like charcoal on a blackboard but stays soothingly and seductively in tune, and definitely extends into Kings of Leon. It’s a great and distinctive voice. Jarni Blair plays fluid and flowing guitar, and these two guys form the overt personality of the band with the tightest of rhythm sections hanging in behind, anchoring the funkiest of rock and the smoothest of ballads equally. “Time keeps ticking away” during the Sunshine of the moment.

No time to Slow Down, this album just keeps going and getting better as the volume notches up (at least in my house). But this is just a great song.

And just when you think you’ve got it nailed it’s UB40 time and Ali Campbell eases us into Electricity with a third world chorus. Hard to believe all this wealth of sound comes out of Dunedin, but then again there’s another band from down there, I seem to recall.

Over & Over, the show continues with a big pop/rock ballad which will be awesome live, but then again, this is a band best served live and loud. I Need a Taste continues the feast, this one being the early KOL when they were really good and before they went anthemic. There’s a lesson to these boys, don’t go anthemic and formulaic like most of the stadium rock bands, keep it raw and authentic. 

Yes, Summer Thieves, keep on Fighting your corner, keep on bare fisted scrapping and never put the gloves on. Because that’s how, as we grow older, we will Always Know You.

Cigarettes in Space was largely self-produced and recorded by the band, and Summer Thieves are Jake Barton, Jarni Blair, Izzy Bones, Adam Spencer and Johnny Ward. They are 12 years old but have lived longer.

Listen to this record loud and go see them live, they are still hanging around Raglan and Tauranga and Christchurch later on in October.


About Summer Thieves

From humble beginnings performing at Dunedin parties to playing alongside some of the world's most revered artists - Summer Thieves have rightfully earned their spot as one of Aotearoa’s most exciting and hard-working bands.

Singer and guitarist Jake Barton and drummer Johnny Ward began playing together in high school, before joining forces with Adam Spencer (bass) to Summer Thieves. Starting at Dunedin Scarfie parties and covers gigs, they quickly became a crowd favourite, amassing a legion of dedicated fans nationwide. Since forming, Summer Thieves have expanded to a five-piece line-up recruiting Izzy Bones (keys and guitar) and Jarni Blair (lead guitar).

After releasing a run of singles, they released their debut album, Warped, a 12-track journey laced with catchy hooks and hypnotic rhythms produced by Tiki Taane. The following years saw the band become a regular on the festival circuit, with multiple performances across the likes of Rhythm & Vines, Bay Dreams, Rhythm & Alps and Soundsplash.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Summer Thieves


Cigarettes In Space
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Paradise Down The Road
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Bandaids and Lipstick
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Summer Thieves
Year: 2012
Type: EP

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