Thee More Shallows
Book of Bad Breaks
Record Review by Adam McKibbin
Thee More Shallows aren’t the “next” anybody, per se, but it’s easy to imagine them earning a similar following to pre-crossover Modest Mouse—the bands appeal to a similar set of sensibilities, rewarding listeners who are willing to follow them off the beaten path, even though they’re plenty capable of delivering the pop goods.
Book of Bad Breaks represents a partnership between Thee More Shallows and underground hip-hop label Anticon—both band and label seem anxious to shake off preconceived notions of themselves and set off into the great beyond.
TMS songwriter Dee Kesler is an enigmatic vocalist and lyricist, but also keeps the material likeable and approachable throughout, aside from some droning experimentalism in the album’s final stretch. After an intro, “Eagle Rock” begins the album with propulsive and pleasant indie-rock, skewered with synthesizers and electronic effects. Everything crystallizes on the wonderful “The Dutch Fist,” with its quirky hip-hop flow and rousing build—a minimal electronic skeleton on the verses and a propulsive, percussive burst on the chorus.
Not as immediate but nearly just as good is “Night at the Knight School,” which immediately follows and more closely resembles the tense dramatics of The Arcade Fire—again benefiting from an undeniable, jubilant build and climax. Kesler, like Win Butler and Anton Chekhov and a million lesser writers, finds big emotions in seemingly mundane moments.
As TMS fuzz-rock into “Proud Turkeys” and its lead-in “Int 1” (still moving in sequential order here—it’s a dazzling stretch), they seem intent on trying out a little bit of everything. Given their track record, and especially given the unqualified success of Book of Bad Breaks, there’s every reason to hope that they continue to cast a wide net.