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THEE MORE SHALLOWS – More Deep Cuts (Monotreme)

Posted: December 16th, 2004, by Dave Stockwell

This album has been a major pain in the arse. There I was, all busy writing in some mildly ridiculous manner about my favourite musical emissions of the past twelve months, happy in the knowledge that my top ten had been pondered on long enough during idle (i.e. working) hours so that I hadn’t forgotten anything. Then I finally remembered to get hold of the second album from Thee More Shallows.

Y’see, this is the only goddamned thing I’ve heard all year that I’ve liked that isn’t almost entirely instrumental/huge swathes of drones/bizarre free improvisation/enormous bouts of riffage [delete as applicable]. It’s almost normal. The gorgeous half-whispered vocals are your focus, empowered by the only lyrics I’ve been interested in outside of an Anticon record in years. The music underneath is generally understated and gorgeous, subtly using complicated rhythms and fascinating textures. The recording is absolutely sublime too – everything is warm, well-placed, and fits together beautifully. Fuckit man, this what I dream pop music would sound like all the time.

“It’s almost normal.” Actually, I should modify that: It’s almost normal. Which is maybe the best thing about TMS – they can start an album with a completely incongruous opening of mildly cheesy electronic drums and synths, and after a couple of listens you won’t even blink an eyelid. There’s the jarring realisation that they’re singing about mass graves in the midst of the album’s most touching musical moments in “Ave Grave”. There’s the second of the record’s awesome one-two punch of middle tracks “Cloisterphobia” and “2am”, which features a high ringing toy piano picking out the lead melody with a sound that woke me up with a jolt after I had slumped asleep drunk and emotional listening to the album for comfort one night, and for a good ten seconds I was convinced that I was stuck in hell, and this was the soundtrack of my eternal misery. Somehow, this traumatic event has failed to temper my enthusiasm for listening to this song whilst sober. And then the last track, “House Break”, which builds oh so imperceptably yet inevitably… and just when you’re thinking it’s about to kick in for one glorious tallyhooing farewell hurrah, TMS have the gall to undercut your expectations, and end this record how they want to – not with a bang, but with a whisper. Which is both gorgeous and utterly appropriate.

Damn these guys. As if I didn’t think highly enough of their first record, they have to go and top it with this effort. My minor quibbles about ‘A History of Sport Fishing’ – sometimes I think perhaps it’s a little overlong and occasionally unfocused – have been not so much addressed as obliterated this time around. Clocking in under 40 minutes (a good 20 less than their debut) and with a laser-sharp focus on music, lyrics and mood, I’ve found myself listening to ‘More Deep Cuts’ at least once a day since it arrived on my doorstep. I just can’t help myself: this is pretty much perfect music. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


P.S. I hear word that they’re coming to Europe in Spring 2005. I suggest you attend, if only to prod them into playing Joy Division’s ‘Disorder’ again.



Dave Stockwell

David can always be relied on to end his e-mails with one of those 'np: blah blah' things in order to remind us of how much more music he listens to every day than anybody else. His interests include rockin ' out in a major style as guitarist in Souvaris, throwing frisbees from tall buildings "just to see what happens" and simply kickin' back with his bitches in a gold-plated jacuzzi.


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