With their fondness for Oscar Wilde
quotes and inclusion in Wind-Up Records' roster -- a place normally reserved for post-grunge and alt-metal groups -- Company of Thieves
know how to set themselves apart from the pack. Musically, however, the band doesn't quite establish a unique personality with Ordinary Riches
, originally released in 2007 as the band's independent debut. Singer Genevieve Schatz confidently steers the album's best number, "Oscar Wilde," with a mix of belty choruses and girlish verses, sighing through the high notes with breathy sex appeal. Meanwhile, guitarist Marc Walloch alternates between arpeggiated chords and swirling riffs, all of which he reprises throughout the record to diverse effect. Where the group falters, though, is in the actual songwriting, which yields several standout tracks ("Quiet on the Front," with its harmonica-filled intro, and the neo-jazz tune "In Passing") but also produces a good deal of alterna-rock filler. Few songs on Ordinary Riches
are concise -- only two tracks finish before the four-minute mark, and one does so with four short seconds to spare -- which makes the filler songs all the more troublesome, since they often continue for upwards of five minutes. Had Company of Thieves
reentered the studio on Wind-Up's dime, they may have left with more worthy partners to "Oscar Wilde." Instead, Ordinary Riches
ends up sounding like a very good independent release swamped by major-label expectations.