As kids shuffle back into classrooms, skin seared from the summer sun and eyes drawn from little sleep, they pull out their books to learn about America's ancient pilgrims and their journey to a new land where the possibilities were seemingly endless. America has always had something mighty shiny to sell to everyone else the whole "land of opportunity and potential wealth" thing that stretches to mythical proportions.
Just like their Irish ancestors, The Thrills made a pilgrimage of their own to the United States to record their debut album. That album, So Much for the City, and the band's latest disc, Let's Bottle Bohemia, suggest the band's perspective on the American dream: a bohemian eagerness to explore mountains (Big Sur), oceans (San Diego) and the Hollywood perception of life (Corey Haim, limousines and faded beauty queens). My, how our pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps American ideal has changed since the pilgrims were here.
Let's Bottle Bohemia is a flashback tribute to '70s musical nostalgia that sounds a lot like The New Pornographers covering the Three's Company theme song in an Irish accent or The Jayhawks shot up the ass of Karen Carpenter. (The album doesn't appear to have a thing to do with Mexican breweries.) Sadly, there's nothing thrilling about these Thrills, though they're titillating for their foreign sprightliness. And though their formula isn't entirely appealing, the head-bobby pop tunes that come out aren't half-bad for a SoCal carbon copy.
The Thrills dream of making Brian Wilson (and his crazy-ass love affair with orchestration) proud here, with thick production and twinkling guitar riffs behind waves and heaps of the sandy old-school beach nostalgia that made their last disc a brief hit in late 2003. And while we still take journeys to this American utopia where dreams can always come true if you work hard enough, The Thrills sound more like pale, daydreaming Irish boys who drink too much and do lines while they sing lines like, "My dreams fade and all the underdogs get laid."
Sounds to me like they're still dreaming.