Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera offered to assist Split Enz with their second album, and the group relocated to England. Second album is something of a misnomer for Second Thoughts, as it’s essentially a revised version of their debut; all but two of the songs had previously been recorded by the group. While it’s more professional sounding than the debut, with Manzanera producing, it’s also less unique; Mental Notes has a unique magic of its own which isn’t captured here.
The decision to rework the old songs caused tension within the band – Judd already had plenty of new songs that he wanted to work on, and the two new songs here, ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘Late Last Night’, are both very strong; punchier and more accessible, without losing the complex structures of their earlier work. Additionally, ‘The Woman Who Loves You’ was an outtake from Mental Notes, so Second Thoughts was its first release.
It’s difficult to know what to rate Second Thoughts, given that a lot of the songs are revisions, but in my opinion it’s different enough in feel from Mental Notes that it stands as a distinct work, and the quality of the actual music is uniformly strong.