Achiever is an eight-track concept EP from Thieves, a Texas-based Pop Punk outfit. In the words of vocalist/guitarist Billy Canino, Achiever focuses on, “facing your demons… [and] learning to truly appreciate the people who make you want to be a better, more honest person, instead of obsessing over the idea that you have something to prove to them, society, and yourself”. Achiever is a fresh change of scenery that strays from the field of banal Pop Punk groups that exist in music today.
Thieves punch the listener square in the face with the opening notes of Achiever, also the title track. It is an introductory course teaching the listener what to expect for the next thirty minutes: ultra fast-paced beats that cease at any moment, drastically slowing down to a more mellow tempo. This technique forces the listener to focus on the music and the music only. Canino preaches the ultimate theme of the EP during this track (“There’s nothing in this life you can’t achieve/Believe”). Bioluminescence is the most reassuring track off Achiever. Its opening lines and chorus, “I know it’s hard sometimes/When you feel like you’ve lost control of your life/But there will come a day when you will catch your break/So have faith” lead to a burst of Fall Out Boy-inspired guitar interludes that adds to the EP’s overall shine.
Any well-rounded Pop Punk listener can argue that some lyrics in Achiever are noticeably inspired by Dan "Soupy" Campbell (of The Wonder Years fame) and his penchant for honesty and self-assurance. Canino laments about internal struggle in The Wisdom Of Insecurity (“My insecurity’s gained nothing but failure and pain/Now I’m on my own again”). The need of companionship and the desire to better oneself amidst struggle is evident in some tracks (especially Broken Down, Breaking Ground). Essentially, Soupy would be proud.
Compassion Vs. Contempt is a constantly moving track that is just over the sixty-second mark, and puts more of the spotlight on drummer James Beveridge, particularly for his ability to not break his kit during the recording (although that fact is not one hundred percent accurate). Quarter Life Crisis is under the definition of “unremitting” in the Easycore dictionary; Canino, guitarist/vocalist Chris Skiles, and bassist/vocalist Nathan Helton truly show off their skills on the strings on this track as Canino belts out, “Sacrifice what you must/It’s better than to live with opportunities lost”. Believer completes the EP with a short and sweet wordless medley that evenly flows with the previous seven tracks.
Thieves does not try too hard to put out the best Pop Punk record this year, and that is what makes Achiever different. The EP is honest, quirky, and awe-inspiring. The band does not slave over trying to transcend their contemporaries; in doing so, Thieves surpass their own expectations and create something that will surprise everyone.
Written by Melissa Jones