LET'S BOTTLE BOHEMIA
The Thrills are back with more sweet-sounding rock ‘n’ roll confections on their second album Let’s Bottle Bohemia. On their debut So Much For The City, their songs were very reminiscent of The Beach Boys and Byrds. This time around, rather than mimic those influences, they have incorporated those bands’ approach to growing as artists by expanding their musical palette. They use big, lush string sections on three of the tracks and enlist R.E.M.’s Peter Buck to play mandolin and guitar on two tracks.
The band sounds great together and the music is very melodic. They are adept at playing upbeat rockers and slow ballads and are even able to alternate the tempo within a song like “Our Wasted Lives.” I would really like to hear them cut loose on a long song because nothing on the album goes over five minutes.
Lead singer Conor Deasy writes the lyrics and tells short stories about growing up and relationships. “Saturday Night” asks the questions “is this what they call love?” and “is this what they call sex?” capturing the bewilderment of lost innocence as one wonders what the hell the rush was to go out all night on weekends.
He also writes about dealing with fame, no doubt fuelled by all the notoriety that came with the band’s debut being considered one of the best albums of 2003 by a number of critics. “wide eyed & new money with faded beauty queens” is where he seems to be at, but he is aware of the fleeting nature of fame and celebrity evident in the lyrics of “Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?” as he lets the has-beens know that he’s “the american dream.”
The one problem I had is that there are too few quality lyrics that stand out. For example, in “Found My Rosebud” the poetry of the line “the greatest ghost writer/couldn’t help you/write a draft of your life” is overwhelmed by the average, clichéd lines like “feel like a country boy caught in headlights” and “great minds have spent lifetimes looking for answers.” Deasy is only 25, so his writing has an opportunity to mature and improve. Plus, he sings with such enthusiasm and passion that it compensates for the weakness of his lyrics.
This might not get the praise of their first album because now The Thrills aren’t appearing out of nowhere, but this album is just good and it’s promising to see a band wanting to grow and mature as artists.