Combining the sun-soaked harmonies of the Beach Boys, the West Coast rock of Neil Young, and the jangly Brit-pop of Teenage Fanclub, Dublin five-piece the Thrills were briefly Ireland's biggest guitar band in the mid-noughties, but adhering to the law of diminishing returns, they now reside in the same largely-forgotten '60s revivalist scrapheap as the Zutons, the Coral, and the Magic Numbers. Hoping to jog people's memories is this official EMI compilation, 2002-2007, which, considering it arrives four years after their self-imposed hiatus, is likely to be their last. Unsurprisingly, their 2003 Mercury Music Prize-nominated debut album, So Much for the City, dominates the track list with six contributions, including the Monkees-referencing Top 20 single "Big Sur," the infectious surf-pop of "One Horse Town," and the shuffling alt-country of "Hollywood Kids." While Conor Deasy's breathless and often croaky vocal tones are an acquired taste, it's not difficult to see why the band's tales of escapism and Tony Hoffer's happy-go-lucky production struck such a chord with rainswept U.K. audiences. The funky "Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?", the piano-laden melancholy of "Not for All the Love in the World," and the angular Strokes-esque jig of "The Irish Keep Gate-Crashing" suggest 2004's Let's Bottle Bohemia was unfairly maligned, but unfortunately its other inclusion, "Faded Beauty Queens" (featuring R.E.M.'s Peter Buck on mandolin) was more indicative of its formulaic "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" sound. Despite the setback, the band's sunny disposition was still very much apparent on 2007's third effort, Teenager, and while it might have been all but ignored by hardcore fans, it's a much bolder record than its two predecessors, as evident on the likes of the nu-folk-tinged "Restaurant," the indie-disco anthem "The Midnight Choir," and the Coldplay-esque lead single "Nothing Changes Around Here." With bands like Fleet Foxes now providing a more authentic Americana experience, it's debatable whether 2002-2007 will inspire much call for a full-scale reunion, but it's still a well-crafted and affectionate homage to sunnier shores which is well worth checking out by those who abandoned ship second time round.
© Jon O'Brien /TiVo