The Japanese art of kintsugi is to take something broken and make it more beautiful than before; shards of ceramic put back together with gold-flecked glue, the cracks a proud part of the object. It’s a concept that’s central to Broken Machine, the second album from Southend-formed, South-east-based five-piece Nothing But Thieves, whose slow-burning self-titled 2015 debut made them a big deal worldwide– but fractured them too.
That debut album found fans in foreign territories first, from Korea to Japan, the States and Europe, and gained the young band respect from pillars of the modern rock community – among them Muse, who took them out as support band on their 2016 arena tour. When the album campaign came to an end in December last year, it was marked with a celebratory homecoming headline gig at landmark venue O2 Academy Brixton – a sure sign that the UK had caught up. “It was a real moment to reflect,” says frontman Conor Mason. “We went to school together. We started playing in [guitarist Dom Craik’s] garage together. Now we’re playing Brixton together, somewhere we’ve been thousands of times over the years to see bands.”
As well as being a celebration, the end of the tour was a relief too. Fearful of the dreaded ‘second album slump’, Nothing But Thieves spent two years on the road working on the follow-up to their debut, and recorded swathes of it while touring America.