The Thrills, Brixton Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

Unabashed possessors of a star-spangled crush, The Thrills wear their Stateside influences on their sleeves, not to mention every other piece of cotton they sport.

Unabashed possessors of a star-spangled crush, The Thrills wear their Stateside influences on their sleeves, not to mention every other piece of cotton they sport. The church of Americana is the broadest of cathedrals. Many foreign musicians who have brought those influences back to the land of plenty have been welcomed with open arms and accepted as one of their own. In the USA, The Thrills have been showered with prizes and fêted by those who still become dewy-eyed at the mention of Buffalo Springfield.

They haven't completely forgotten their Dublin roots. A nice piece of prepared blarney by the singer, Conor Deasy, tells us that their new song "Curse of Comfort" is about a punk rocker who could never get over the fact that his guitar was owned by his father. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Deasy has heard of punk in the first place.

The inspiration for their debut album was a four-month stint the band spent in San Diego, California, in 1999. Naturally, The Thrills have already been prefixed with the dreaded term "sun-drenched", but the newer songs suggest a clever side-step from affirmation to scepticism. That's what being on the road does to a band. Tonight's performance of "Saturday Night", with its tale of "Top 40 nightclubs", is an indication of this road-hewn uncertainty; Deasy puts particular emphasis on the refrain of "hate on a Saturday night".

Sartorially speaking, the band have no time for grunge reinterpretations of stoner chic. Scuffed, loose-fit designer jeans meet members'-club suit-jackets in a style that is first choice for everyone from the Aussie rockers Jet to the chart-throbs Blue. There must be a shortage of pop stylists out there.

In between a tour with the alt.rock legends the Pixies and the disappointed Democrats REM, The Thrills are back in Blighty to, well, thrill. A hatful of memorable singles doesn't hurt when you're looking to sell out mini-hangars such as Brixton Academy; the one you find difficult to get out of your head is "Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?", but the newest record is "Not for All the Love in the World".

Though the result of a multitude of Mojo-approved influences, each song is identifiably Thrills-like and a contender for the band's signature tune. And so it is with "Not for All the Love...". Even though the big country lies more in their imagination than in their blood, somewhere the likes of Chuck Berry and Bruce Springsteen will be smiling at lyrics such as: "I've got a tankful of gas to ride."

An inevitable side-effect of their constricted style is that each song can blend into another. Deasy's voice, born for a certain kind of indie-pop, is the primary culprit, offering little in the way of variation. Still, that never hurt Neil Young. One thing's for sure: as long as a market exists both here and "over there" for all the things Rolling Stone magazine loves, The Thrills will remain the same.

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