Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

The Thrills 

So Much for the City

Wednesday, Jan 21 2004
It's not difficult to understand people's obsession with California, especially if you've spent a significant amount of time here. It can be a magical place, which is why it comes up in pop music so often -- see Led Zeppelin's "Going to California," Phantom Planet's new cult hit (thanks to The O.C. ) "California," and much, much more in between. But in the case of the Thrills, who name-check Santa Cruz, Big Sur, and Hollywood in the song titles on their debut, So Much for the City, there's something false, sneaky, and plastic at play. The Dublin band reportedly spent several months on the West Coast before recording the album. Still, regardless of any rays or insight the musicians might have soaked up while they were here, it sounds as if they're ripping off all the British bands that've been trying to sound American for the last four decades.

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.

About The Author

Abigail Clouseau


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"