On Calling Out, EZTV seemed to have mastered timeless, effortless guitar pop. Their poignant melodies and tumbling riffs were so perfect that it was hard to believe they could be improved upon -- and on High in Place, they're a tough act to follow. Though the band didn't make any major changes to their music between Calling Out and this album, the overall feel is different and less distinctive. Recorded and produced by the band, High in Place's crystalline sound stands in sharp contrast to their debut's mix of haze and grit; as pretty as it is, it's almost too smooth and clean to connect with. Similarly, Ezra Tenenbaum's buried vocals seem to recede from the listener, making the bittersweet mood more impressionistic than specific when he sings "Not afraid of fading out/Just slowing down" on "Reason to Run," which features Real Estate's Martin Courtney on guitar. Along with Courtney, EZTV's collaborators include his bandmate Matt Kallman as well as Jenny Lewis, whose ghostly harmonies are a faint presence on "High Flying Faith." Calling Out's attention-getting spark resurfaces on "Clear," where processed synths and drums add movement and energy; the hooky "Temporary Gold," and "States of Confusion," where wry observations and bittersweet chord changes make it the closest thing to a rocker on High in Place. More often, though, EZTV is so laid-back that they might as well be lying down (and on "Hammock," they sing the praises of doing just that). Ultimately, it's easy to appreciate the gentle drift of High in Place's riffs, melodies, and harmonies, but it's hard to do much more than that.