Thee More Shallows
The third album sees this San Francisco trio up their game from shoegazing atmospherics to damn near post-rock genius. This shift in approach has led them to the hallowed grounds of the Anticon arena in which they are free to roam anywhere they please. And roam they do, but the success of this album lies both in the distance from which this band strays from the post-rock centre and the trail they leave behind allowing a route home at all times. This route may not be easy to find but it's always there and knowing this enables the listener to trust these guys to take them where they will.
Created in a similar spirit to Anticon favorites Why? or Fog, Thee More Shallows tread a fine line between coherency and shambles threatening to fall apart at any moment. Conventional song structure is turned on its arse with many songs masquerading as lo-fi, throwaway ditties then exploding into grand moments of majesty like on the epic Night At The Night School. Starting out all soft and warm the drums soon pick up to a running pace and reach heights you never thought possible at the beginning. Or sometimes doing the opposite as in The Dutch Fist. Here Dee Kesler's vocals are fed through a synthesizer and slowly build to glorious melodies then collapse in a dirty heap of drums and fuzz.
Songs are divided up and flow together masterfully with great use of instrumental interludes. Int.1 is a blissful string section that leads you into false security before it slides into a pummeling onslaught of hard-as-hell guitars. This leads into the awesome Proud Turkeys that continues this punk barrage until Int.2 which reunites us with the strings and tricks us into thinking it's all one song.
Towards the end of the record we get The White Mask, a song which really does mirror this album as a whole. It plods along for the first 4 minutes then dwindles into virtually nothing. Then just as it seems to be hanging on by a thread it pulls it all back together and launches itself in a cloud of fuzz and drums skyward for a final crashing finale.
This is an expertly crafted album that often tries to trick us into thinking it's a lo-fi waste of time. But on reaching the end you aren't sure what you've just been listening to but you'd quite like to start again and find out. It's a brave step forward for this band and now sees them in the kind of musical area where they have earned the right to do anything they please. Highly recommended.