On "Just Traveling Through," as if anticipating criticism, vocalist Conor Deasy offers, "If this sounds phony/ Don't say I didn't warn," with his forced, throaty singing. Much of the problem is actually Deasy's voice itself, which seems like it was filtered through an American-accent-and-smoker's-cough emulator during the recording process. Meanwhile, the rest of the band members lack any sort of swing when they employ kitsch-y piano eighth notes or trebly, clean guitar sprinkles on their folk-pop numbers. It's too bad modern technology couldn't give the rhythm section a little bit of soul: There's a stiffness to all the guitars, harmonicas, slide guitars, and banjos on So Much for the City that makes them seem inauthentic.
Deasy can warn us all he wants, but the fact of the matter is, if you're looking to hear something mellow, jangly, and properly Californian, pull out an old Beach Boys or Byrds record instead of shelling out for Virgin's latest contrived hatchling.