Originally calling themselves the Love Vigilantes, the duo of Jen Reynoso and Scott Yuen had to give up that name due to another, only slightly less obscure group called The Vigilantes of Love. But you know, I like Thieves Like Us better. It’s got a darker sound to it, one that’s more in tune with the duo’s smoky, acoustic-based tunes. The Love Vigilantes just sounds too, well, hippy-ish to be taken seriously. Good riddance, I say.
Released in July of 2000, Stop at 25 is quite an impressive debut, especially considering the lo-fi nature of the recording. Reynoso’s vocals are the perfect combination of Hope Sandoval’s smoldering and Alison Shaw’s nonsensical innocence. Though her vocals fall a little flat at times, and the words get a little slurred at times, they work well with the music. Although we’re essentially talking about a band whose entire sound is based on guitar and vocals, we’re not talking about your local, run of the mill coffeehouse duo. At times, I’m reminded of artists like Love Spirals Downwards, especially on the “2 Minute Mistake” with it’s spacious chords and Reynoso’s voice floating like smoke over it all.
Thieves Like Us is still a little rough around the edges. The production is lacking, and Reynoso’s voice gets a little thin around the edges, especially on “Closer.” But with Mazzy Star having vanished off the face of the earth, and Mojave 3 drowning in their Nick Drake and Bob Dylan fetishes, it’s a good thing that this CD landed on my doorstep. Considering the band got their start with a Jewel cover meant for an answering machine (hopefully done as a joke), Stop at 25 is a one of those ideal demos — rough around the edges and in need of some healthy polishing, but with plenty of beauty still shining through.