The Halifax foursome's sophomore record, Thought Rock Fish Scale, pairs the live-to-tape retro philosophy of their debut with a calmer sonic palette, but the restrained guitars and drums ultimately work against the record's success. Where they provided a propulsive force on Whine of the Mystic that complemented Nigel Chapman's introspective drawl, the lack of instrumental weight causes Thought Rock Fish Scale's pleasant rock tracks to breeze by without making much impact.
The song structures feel rushed, too: Whenever a song finds a potent groove, it's either time for the song to fade out or move on to something else completely, as in the middle of "Click Clack," when Chapman jumps an octave and the guitars burst into a climax that is all-too-quickly replaced by an inoffensive twangy shuffle. Chapman sings it best in "Alaskan Shake": "One of the swallows seemed to cough and sputter while the others watched, but not frantically." Things happen on this record, but they don't feel particularly significant.
If Whine of the Mystic was the boozy night out, Thought Rock Fish Scale feels like the groggy hangover. It doesn't hurt, but its lethargic haze makes you wish it were still last night. (You've Changed)