We were instantly smitten with Chris Wollard’ side project the second we heard Chris Wollard & The Shop Thieves’ self-titled album back in ‘09. And while “Canyons” may have mostly flown by under the radar, it was at least equally good. I mean, have you heard “Heavy Rolling Thunder”? Holy mackerel! For album number three, Wollard and his merry band of Ship Thieves did not only lose the first half of the project name, they also got rid of the Americana influences that lived strong on the first two albums. Why? I’m guessing simply because they could.
Is that a shame? Yeah, kinda. We loved those porch anthems. Then again, the second you hear the one-two opening combo that is “Middle Man” and the title track, you know this is gonna be ridiculously good. Along with Addison Burns (Quit, The Enablers), Chad Darby (Samiam, Hawks and Doves) and drummer Bobby Brown, Wollard has surrounded himself with a solid band. And with Ship Thieves now being Chris’ primary songwriting outlet, there’s no stopping these dudes.
That’s mostly because they simply don’t want to stop once they start going. The big melodic punk rock songs keep flying by on “No Anchor”, propelled by a strong rhythm section, solid guitar licks, catchy melodies and – of course- Wollard’s trademark gritty vocals.
It would be too easy to describe “No Anchor” the best Hot Water Music album that Hot Water Music hasn’t made. But it does give you a good idea of the quality of these ten songs. Songs like “Born Into This”, the rabid rager that is “Something Is Missing” and “Undertakers” come at you with so much energy and unbridled enthusiasm that it’s pretty much impossible to not get swept off your fee. And while all of the songs are already great individually, the album as a whole has such a nice flow that no anchor will hold them down.