On Book of Bad Breaks, the full-length follow-up to 2005’s well loved More Deep Cuts, Thee More Shallows take a minimalist approach to producer and arranger Dee Kesler’s precisely charted, near-orchestral post-pop. The unlimited studio access the trio enjoyed while recording their album became a curse as much as a blessing: endless hours, unlimited tracks, long nights of isolation and critical levels of obsession. Disposing of these distractions, TMS set out to build Book of Bad Breaks upon a foundation of first takes and primal instincts. Basic tracks were recorded with a $50 Casio keyboard, a distortion pedal, an acoustic guitar and little else. Drums, electric guitar, violin, French horn and beats and breaks (courtesy of Anticon’s Odd Nosdam) were recorded subsequently to round out the compositions.
The result plays like a film (as is the Thee More Shallows’ M.O.). Book of Bad Breaks moves fluidly through rich pop atmospheres and epic, proggy depths. Throughout, Kesler’s mellifluous, slightly twanged lyrics offer as much to sing along with as to ponder with a smile. To be sure, “minimal” here is a relative term, but Book of Bad Breaks is, quite simply, unadulterated genius.