An ongoing celebration of the band’s trademark motifs: upbeat vocal harmonies,...
Paul Sullivan 2007
For their third studio album, Irish Americana outfit The Thrills resisted yet another sojourn to their beloved California (where their first two albums were recorded), and opted instead for an austere - and by all accounts, haunted - warehouse in an industrial area of Vancouver.
You’d have thought that the experience might have dampened the band’s notorious optimism a little, yet a cursory listen shows Teenager to be an ongoing celebration of the band’s trademark motifs: upbeat vocal harmonies, jangly instrumentation and breezy melodies.
On subsequent listens, the nostalgia hinted at by the album’s title moves steadily into the foreground - filigree threads of reminiscence sewn studiously into the fabric and words of jaunty-sounding tunes like “Nothing Changes Round Here”, “This Year” and “The Midnight Choir.”
Unlike their last two albums – the joyous, expansive So Much For The City and the more embattled Let’s Bottle Bohemia - Teenager sees The Thrills mine this reflective mood, infusing their happy-go-lucky West Coast schtick with more personalized themes.
The concept of “The Teenager” is of course the perfect hook for a more mature direction: the idea is incontrovertibly American (bonus!) but the experience is universal - at least throughout the Western world - and The Thrills can easily relate it to their own youthful past.
Unsurprisingly, tackling such lyrical themes makes for a more profound listening experience. The meandering streams of reflection and regret – always generic, never specific – are expressed most vividly in the afore-mentioned songs, as well as amongst the bluesy allure of the title track and “Should Have Know Better,” ultimately adding more depth and melancholy to the band’s sound.
Tunes such as the maudlin “I’m So Sorry,” (which sees Conor Deasy indulge in a hopelessly supplicating chorus that’s just this side of bearable), don’t strike home so well, but and the buoyant finale “There’s Joy To Be Found In This Life,” owes much to their idols, the Beach Boys.
But despite the occasional blip, Teenager is well-conceived , well-written, and generally well-rounded. A surprisingly strong third album for Dublin’s most American band, and a poke in the eye for anyone who thought they wouldn’t make the long haul.