The Thief Bunny Society is a very solid album, although not as quirky as its cover and lead video suggest. In the artist’s video we see the handwriting of a child, followed by the first of many bunnies ~ then a series of cartoons and collages. There’s a strange cut to the ocean, along with a flying whale ~ then a bunny in the big city, next to a moose ~ then another bunny on a motorbike. In the end, for no apparent reason, the lynx gets the crown.
These images reflect the juxtapositions of childhood, the intimations of imaginations without rules. This is in fact the album’s theme. Per Störby Jutbring has been at this for a while, and his inner child remains intact. His teal-colored hair peeks from beneath a teal-colored hat. An attention to childhood is apparent throughout his work (which includes the surprise hit “Dance of the Diaper Fairies”). But there’s also a serious undercurrent to the current set, expressed as early as “The Lynx, The Fawn, The Squirrel.” The piano sets a sad tone that is only amplified by the string section. Along with his wife, Störby Jutbring also runs a podcast called Kitty & Pers Parent Pod, which focuses not only on children but on issues such as gender equality. On the surface (as demonstrated by the visual aspects of this release), childhood is innocent and fun. But below the surface (as demonstrated by the music and the podcast), it’s not easy being a child, although adults typically forget this as soon as they leave it behind. Alternating between melancholy and playfulness (the electronic/organic pas de deux of second single “Braids”), the artist filters the dual nature of childhood through an adult lens.
So let’s ignore the fact that one track is called “Weally” and concentrate on the music, which tugs at the heartstrings more than it does the corners of the mouth. Without titles, cover or video, The Thief Bunny Society comes across as bittersweet yet tender, with light segments (“The Constant Pitter-Patter of the Thief Bunnies”) balancing the lugubrious (“The Sloth”). Störby Jutbring seems to be trying hard to be twee, and failing miserably ~ accidentally producing an album that is much more honest, deep and true than he probably imagined when he put the bunny on the motorbike. (Richard Allen)