Somewhere in the wreckage and haze of the late-90’s blend of waning alternative and burgeoning synthetics spawned what became Thee More Shallows. A few years later, the band has refined its sound into a digital grunge that buzzes instead of thrashes while keeping its mellowed pace under control. On the band’s debut, Book of Bad Breaks, they neatly splinter a fiberglass pop-rock sound with sharp electronics that puts a tight new spin on a dying sound.
Overall, Book of Bad Breaks, feels like an urban art project. Several short instrumental interludes are scattered throughout the album, and they provide a stark break to the general rock sound elsewhere. Each one involves derivative orchestration, as compared to the fringed garage ballads. Singer Dee Kesler’s vocals are relatively sparse, but well used, and carry a memorable tune each time. And when he starts "Eagle Rock" off with "Young dumb/And full of cum/This will be your anthem", it has a sinister alt-cool vibe.
Despite the thick style, Book of Bad Breaks actually has several moments of catchiness in the haze. "The Dutch Fist" begins with a light, fake snare guiding superfuzz and Kesler’s soft vocals before colliding with a slow, stomping dance beat. Appropriately, the synth owns the song. "Oh Yes, Another Mother" is a desolate electronic melody driven by a semi-fun drumbeat, sounding like an 80’s pop song that just woke up with a twenty-year hangover.
Thee More Shallows are an interesting twist on rock, and a nice fit for Anticon Records. There’s a stringent disregard for normalcy despite the catchiness, and the synthetic facet of the album is good enough to consider it flat-out strange.