Album: The Thrills

So Much For The City, Virgin

If it weren't already instantly obvious from their music, you could easily surmise that The Thrills were big fans of West Coast rock from their lyrics, which never miss an opportunity, however tenuous, to name-check one California location or another, from the singles "Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)" and "Big Sur" to the mentions elsewhere of Los Angeles, Hollywood and San Diego (twice). Clearly, la-la land exerts a decisive fascination upon the Dublin quintet, who recorded their debut in LA with the Beck and Supergrass producer Tony Hoffer. Their grasp of the region's musical history, particularly the great West Coast close-harmony tradition, is impressively thorough, too, with songs variously summoning echoes of such as The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, The Eagles, Gram Parsons, The Association and The Byrds. Indeed, on "Say It Ain't So", one of the band's two guitarists does the most convincing impression I've heard of The Byrds' late, great Clarence White, with a deftly picked solo that's simultaneously slippery and spiky. Last year's single "Santa Cruz" remains their most engaging piece, its plunking banjo and bar-room piano resembling one of Brian Wilson's hop-head Wild-West fantasies, and Conor Deasy's vocals bringing a languid earnestness to its sunny countenance. Elsewhere, the predominantly wistful tone curdles on "Hollywood Kids" into a sort of enervated, sun-baked daze, while "'Til the Tide Creeps in" acknowledges how easy it is to slip into torpor in such balmy climes: "I was surfing this tidal wave of faded glories/ A San Diego pad/ And five or six years walked straight by me." An impressive, assured debut.

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