Some 40 years after the release of Jethro Tull's prog landmark Thick as a Brick, chief Tull Ian Anderson crafts a sequel. Sensibly titled Thick as a Brick 2, this 2012 set brings us up to speed with the life of Gerald Bostock, who was a mere lad of 10 at the time of TAAB but is now an adult shouldering a myriad of responsibilities. His disappointments and mild triumphs make him a different man than he was, yet underneath it all he's still that recognizable child, and the same can be said for Anderson's music: it's cleaner and streamlined, not as indulgent or idealistic as his younger work, boasting a more sensible structure, yet it still bears all of his signatures from the flute to rambling folk-rock. To criticize TAAB2 for not having a clear hook to pull you inside is unfair: Anderson is assuming a familiarity with his work, so he's giving himself time to write around the point, taking diversions wherever he finds them, sometimes in the form of eight-minute mini-suites, sometimes in the form of brief two-minute interludes. TAAB2 doesn't sound contemporary but it doesn't sound classic either -- it sounds caught between the two eras, as if it was recorded in 1990. That may turn off some listeners, but they're the kind who wouldn't spend any time with an Anderson album anyway. Those diehards who are still curious after all these years will find Thick as a Brick 2 an effective, if not quite compelling, sequel to a beloved classic.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine