The Scottish indie-pop group, Mark Sharp & The Bicycle Thieves (MS&TBT), have announced a release date for their debut album. The album, Unmask the Circus, will be released 25th August.
Coming from West Lothian, the band have amassed a following through their energetic live performances and indie-pop tunes.
Unmask the Circus follows the release of their latest singles Big Star, Superman, and Last Dance. Their 2021 release titled Big Swim done numbers for the five-piece band, topping the iTunes Rock Chart and reaching number 20 on the main UK Chart.
Consisting of 13 songs, this album took a lot of work and love from the band. Mark Sharp said: “We’ve been working on this project for years and we’re so buzzing that our fans will finally get the chance to hear what we’ve been up to – We hope they enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it.”
Kicking off this album is the electric and dystopian piece Green. Angsty vocals are supported with a powerful synth and striking drumbeats. A catchy beat and vocals ripping emotion straight from the soul, this is a tune that will get you on the dance floor.
Last Dance takes a 180-spin emotionally; as the name suggests this song has an air of finality surrounding it. Calmer vocals still hold some grit to them as they are softened by the accompanying piano keys and drums.
Hints of supporting vocals are sprinkled throughout this song as it builds up into a faster paced tune. You can hear the raw love for music making in this one.
Moving onto a more positive sound, Northern Soul is up next. Upbeat, cheerful, and very summery, this track holds the essence of indie-pop. Brass and drums intertwine as the vocals lose their rough edge and lead you into a warm summer night.
Sticking with the feel-good attitude is Superman, a love song about the weakness of loving. This track is genuine and open. Once again embracing indie-pop, Superman is a perfect combination of synth and electric with a strong, thrumming beat – much like a heartbeat in love.
While the band welcome energetic and happy pieces, they don’t shy away from colder, darker tunes either. Sink or Swim is about trial and error, daring to take risks and the hardships of not fitting in.
The instrumentals nicely contrast the lyrics here and without focusing, this seems like a cheerful song. Weaved in around the faux happiness are melancholy lyrics. As the flame burns brighter and this song nears its end, we reach a powerful conclusion that fans can scream their hearts out to.
Entering the full-on “sad songs” segment of Unmask the Circus we have Stubborn and One More Time. The former consisting of softly uttered lyrics against the slow taps of a piano, the latter singing about heartbreak. Soft drum beats and electric strums will have you swaying along to the vocals, and maybe shedding a tear or two.
To lead fans away from the sadness and heartbreak, we are greeted with Tippy Toes. The coming-of-age type vibe in this piece is very indie-pop. Relaxed vocals mix in with bursts of energy and belting lyrics.
MS&TBT are not afraid of making impactful pieces either. Today. Tomorrow. Forever is powerful, gritty, and hopeful.
Rounding up the album is Black Ties and Little Lies. A gloomy piano shares the stage with matching vocals as both build into a more upbeat pace. This is by no means a happy song, rather one of hurt evolving into hope.
MS&TBT have played at the likes of TRNSMT, Tenement Trail, EH6, Edinburgh Summer Sessions, and Party at the Palace. Adding to their achievements, the band have sold out their headline shows across Glasgow venues, including King Tuts.
The band will be performing a special release show at Bathgate’s Regal Theatre on 2 September, Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire on 22 September and Tunnels Aberdeen on 23 September. London and Manchester dates are set to follow.
Unmask the Circus is a truly impressive way of storytelling as the band convey messages and feelings throughout the different moods within this album. It is clear that MS&TBT are confident in their identity and know exactly what kind of music they want to be known for.