A History of Sport Fishing reunites Dee Kesler and Tadas Kisielius, both of the defunct local band Shackleton. The big change between Shackleton and Thee More Shallows -- which recently added the "More" to differentiate itself from a similarly named outfit -- is warmth. Kesler's enchanting, whispery falsetto now falls over a whirl of sounds, from graceful strings and delicate cymbals to fuzzy guitars and field recordings. One particularly haunting track, "The CruXXX," even adds the muffled murmurs of drunken revelers into the mix.
Sport Fishing's instrumentals -- the cello-ridden "Pulchritude," the glockenspiel-and-guitar-accented "Aerodrome" -- capture the coziness of lullabies without actually sending the listener to sleep. On the more jarring side of nighttime, "Ballad of Douglas Chin" combines a creeping, sirenlike guitar with insomniac lyrics: "Trapped in the city/ No sleep no more/ Just stay up yelling/ At pimps and whores." Despite the often gritty verse, this fast-paced number is as intricately woven as a comfy blanket.
During the daytime, however, Sport Fishing doesn't fare as well. Compared to slow indie-rock efforts by Yo La Tengo, Mazzy Star, and Mojave 3, Thee More Shallows' faint melodies aren't as likely to stick with you as you wander sluggishly through your day. On the title track, Kesler's vocal resembles the weak speech of someone nodding off, while "Where Are You Now?" and "The 8th Ring of Hell" feature too many monotonous instrumental valleys between energetic peaks.
But then comes "He Hate Me," a song that infuses the album's lethargy with a spirited chorus of children's shouts, the playground shrieks providing a gleeful respite from the record's restfulness. In moments like these, the members of Thee More Shallows prove they can craft inspired songs that are both drowsy and dynamic. And if the music isn't quite as deep, overall, as you'd like, it's all the better to dream to.