Dire Straits seemed to be a band with no popular context when they recorded this sophomore outing. Their previous album's "Sultans of Swing" still hadn't charted and former schoolteacher Mark Knopfler, whose 30th birthday coincided with this album's release, still had little interest in mirroring the post-punk obsessions of late-'70s London. Oblivious to the changes that would soon take place (brother David leaving the band, compact discs resurrecting older rock consumers, and their own ascension to arena-rock status), the band continued to refine its pub-rock aesthetic on this unpretentious set of melancholy rock tunes. Mark's talent for cynical character sketches is further developed on tracks like "Where Do You Think You're Going" and "News," while the presence of Jerry Wexler at the production helm ensures that the rest of the band keeps the rhythms tight. But the laid-back atmosphere of recording in the Bahamas seems to have had just as much influence, from the reggae lope of the opening "Once upon a Time in the West" to those waves crashing against the beach in the hypnotic album closer, "Follow Me Home." All in all, a solid effort from a band that probably had no idea what was just around the corner.