On the Thrills’ 2003 debut, So Much for the City, Conor Deasy and his Irish collective of Guinness guzzlers told you about their obsessions with California, lovers and booze. And much like the disaffection and superficiality broadcasted by the likes of Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson, the Thrills captured the Golden State’s essence but with less austerity. Instead, they used chiming guitars and bopping pianos to depict a Hollywood-like atmosphere where every night is a party and a fast life is a good life. But similar to Manson’s and Love’s version of California, the refrain always rings the same — like a bad hangover.
The Thrills sophomore effort, Let’s Bottle Bohemia, could be another attempt to answer those ill-fated days spent in bed recovering. And if not, it sure sounds like it. In place of the debut’s summery feeling, its successor sounds bleak. The music isn’t as upbeat, the mood is cast in headache grey — Let’s Bottle Bohemia just doesn’t feel like the Beach Boys emulation the band went for on its debut. It’s probably a head space band members usually occupy when they’ve been on the road too long and have nothing else to write about except for, well, being on the road.
Thematically, the album is a failure; songs waver between lyrics about dry humping (on “Saturday Night”), one-night stands (on “Not For All the Love in the World”) and teenage heartthrobs of yesteryear (on “Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?”). But it gets better; Deasy tops all that cheese with more stinky subject matter: “A hooker with a heart of gold/ a cheap date that can’t be sold,” croons the band leader on “You Can’t Fool Friends with Limousines.”
But where the Thrills lack in profoundness, they recoup with memorable melodies and dazzling instrumentations that manifest on “Faded Beauty Queens” and especially opener “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” But overall, Let’s Bottle Bohemia is one giant ball of disaster; from the amateurish subject matter to the puke-green album cover, it just reeks of disappointment. Fortunately, it’s pretty much over before you can say, “Dookie.”