Perhaps America’s greatest quality is its unique
appearance to different generations of immigrants and outsiders.
For the Irish, who have been coming in droves for the past century,
America becomes an often mystical land of opportunity and fame. The
most famous Irish rock-exports, U2, have treated the states with
biblical reference (The Joshua Tree) and with
tongue-in-cheek disdain for its celebrity (Pop).
The hearts and minds of The Thrills clearly lay in one American
setting: sunny, sweet California. Their debut album, So Much For
The City, was all Brian Wilson-style high register vocals and
some momentous piano breakdowns.
This time around, the boys from Ireland take a little bit of
themselves into their SoCal fantasies. Celtic twinges slip into
lead singer Conor Deasy’s high tenor and there is some fine
introspection on the album-closing “The Irish Keep Gate
Crashing.” The green tinge on their music still can’t
hide their idols: The Thrills borrow equally from the playbook of
the Beach Boys and the layered vocals and woodsy guitars of The
Band. Deasy, backing vocalists Kevin Horan, Daniel Ryan and Padraic
McMahon can never hope to mimic the hauntingly rich vocals of
Richard Manuel and The Band’s, but they still touch some
Most of the time Let’s Bottle Bohemia stays within
a stone’s throw of beachfront American dreams with lyrics
like, “I came to this city / to build a mountain of envy / to
marry a Kennedy.” The Thrills are voraciously obsessed with
this nation and, at their best, their voices rise like a youthful
choir, yearning for the shore, dreaming of stars.
It’s good they have such luxuriant vocals; their rhythm
section and percussion are none too adroit. Drummer Ben Carrigan
muffs the easiest drum fills and makes little impact over the 10
songs. Guitar interplay is almost nonexistent, occassionally
pushing a shallow, weak sound to the foreground.
Like any other piece of art primarily consumed with
place,Let’s Bottle Bohemia has a wonderfully ambient
sense of transport. In the last breaths of the summer, The Thrills
gaze at the ever-graying shoreline and wonder where the time went.
They’re just a bunch of boys from Dublin dazzled with the
lights and foamy surf. They’re out of place in the California
towns and they know it. While they shouldn’t turn around and
try and become the next coming of The Pogues, a little more of a
provincial sound wouldn’t hurt them next go around. Oh, and
neither would a new drummer.
Rating 3 out of 5 stars