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The Thrills

There are lots of reasons one might choose to intensely dislike the Thrills. With a career spanning one whopping year, they've already been adorned with a multitude of accolades. Everyone's calling their album So Much for the City the debut of the year; and Mojo makes enthused avowals about their "top-down pop that sparkles like a lifeguard's teeth." Aside from the off-putting praises, the mere idea of songs entitled "Santa Cruz," "Big Sur," and "Hollywood" makes you want to throw up your hands and scream, "Bloody hell, you're Irish!" And, Dubliners or not, emulating the music of bands like the Beach Boys or the Byrds is way overdone.

But the cynical nay saying, surprisingly enough, just doesn't seem to work here; what we have is an album that comes together almost effortlessly. So Much for the City is like a long summer anthem chronicling only the most perfect moments. Dappled with lush harmonies and the eyes-turned-heavenward voice of Conor Deasy, the album has an escapist feel to it. This is in large part due to the heavy dose of seventies pop and soul that's apportioned generously throughout the pieces; it's an optimistic revival of rock that conjures up images of sand, sea foam, and pleasantly winding roads stippled with sunlight.

Swirly guitars and cautiously beatific lyrics overflow in songs like "Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)," "One Horse Town," and the UK hit "Big Sur," and coexist astride a more leisurely element in the music that brings to mind the wistfulness of Neil Young and the haunting cadences of Gram Parsons.

Stemming from the band's four-month stopover in San Diego circa 1999, the obvious formula (every song being about California) is salvaged by the optimistic wonder that's evoked by these wandering naifs, who have created the perfect soundtrack for dreamy sojourns in undisturbed beach towns.