Album Review by Kris Griffiths
Little more than a year has passed since The Thrills’ pleasant debut SO MUCH FOR THE CITY frothed into life before surfing upon the kind of disproportionate transatlantic acclaim usually reserved for bands like The Coldplays. Polite ripples of British applause were engulfed by Yankee standing ovations: the New York Times’ ‘2nd Best Album of 2003’, then Bob Dylan inviting them on tour with him and REM’s Peter Buck eagerly contributing his mandolin skills to this, their sophomore effort, hurriedly released while summer memories still linger.
Therein lies the first and foremost problem. Despite the press notes gushing about a more intricate and compelling musical growth etc, it’s still the same West-Coast-whimsy-sunshine-pop but with some ELO-style strings slapped on. Only this time round the whole cool Americana thing begins to grate like GREASE re-runs, sorry, GREASE 2, re-runs. Lyrics like “hands off the virgin prom queen” and “emptier than a suburban pool in the fall”, when sung by Dubliners rather than Californians, become progressively more irksome with each new listen. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO COREY HAIM? enquires the first single. Who, like, cares?
It all detracts from some of the underlying melodic qualities found in tunes like the blossoming FOUND MY ROSEBUD, which deviate from the grain. Likewise, THE IRISH KEEP GATE-CRASHING is a welcome reminder of where the heart is. All they have to do next time is dispel all the references to San Diego, Santa Cruz, Vegas and Hollywood and look a bit closer to home. For now, let’s not bottle anything.