An interesting hybrid that’s halfway between Panic at the Disco and something much more prog-y and punky, with proper and very grown-up playing, Thinking Clear is an episodic delight, with an awful lot of elements that could easily crossover to please an awful lot of people.
With a sound that’s every bit right now, The Second After are all drawling, close-harmony vocals, nice and declamatory, with a fearsome vocal range and some tremendous playing, too – particularly from behind the drum kit.
A brilliant opening couplet draws the unsuspecting listener right in to the action: ‘A classic case of fallin’ / So confident I’m all in’.
Mixed quite brilliantly, and using light and shade and space really wisely, Thinking Clear modulates between thoughtful, muscular half-time sections and blisteringly furious sections with bone-crushing kicks and crunches with some aplomb. Intricate backing vocals weave through the mix with a confidence you might not expect, and the whole tells a story of a fast-paced affair that suits the music down to a tee.
There’s subtlety aplenty, too. Muted guitar parts have a role to play, and the parts on snare and kick are not your usual fare. While there are plenty of aural tropes here that you’ll have heard before, there’s enough individual colour to retain your interest, and Thinking Clear is a bit of a juggernaut that’s driving through the back lot of a movie studio – crashing through different sets of different movies, and taking on the spirit of each as it smashes through!
Impressive, skilful, driven, on point. Nice!