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The Thrills - Teenager

The Thrills, Teenager

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

I’VE never been a massive fan of The Thrills. Musically, they’re very accomplished and with songs like Big Sur and Santa Cruz (You’re Not That Far) they’ve consistently promised more than they’ve delivered.

Their belated third album (following 2004’s Let’s Bottle Bohemia) repeats that trick in that it begins very brightly before ultimately underwhelming.

The Thrills started to record the album after decamping to Vancouver in 2006 with producer Tony Hoffer once again at the helm. Having made the first two albums in LA, the band made a deliberate decision to avoid the sunny ambience of California and opted instead for the Warehouse studio, located in “the worst neighbourhood in all of Canada”.

The change of scene imbued them with a renewed intensity and a fresh perspective on every angle of writing, arranging and recording their music.

As such, Teenager is described as more intimate and reflective, as well as more personal and closer to home than the previous two efforts. Its themes speak of adolescence, the loss of innocence and of leaving it all behind, as reflected in song titles such as Nothing Changes Around Here.

But there’s something about Conor Deasy’s vocals that hinders the songs. Instrumentally, they’re as well constructed as ever, packed with jangling guitar riffs and some sparkling piano chords but there’s something missing.

As previously mentioned, opening song The Midnight Choir gets things off to a cracking start with some shimmering guitar solos and a keen sense of melody (both vocally and instrumentally). While the rousing riffs of This Year work well in tandem with the mouth organ bursts runnning throughout.

But lead single Nothing Changes Around Here is a fairly average offering, while the album seems to have settled into a groove by Restaurant with even the guitar melodies beginning to sound the same. Long Forgotten Song threatens to veer into Waterboys territory, I’m So Sorry is quite dreary and seems to have been inspired by Elton John balladry, and the country/folk-influenced Should’ve Known Better finds Deasy’s vocals at their most fragile/strained and annoying.

The album rallies briefly during more intense and edgy tracks like Teenager... but only briefly. In most respects, it’s quite a lengthy journey to the final track and one that fails to engage as emphatically or provocatively as its cover shot of a teenage boy and girl making out suggests.

Download picks: The Midnight Choir, This Year, I Came All The Way, Teenager

Track listing:

  1. The Midnight Choir
  2. This Year
  3. Nothing Changes Around Here
  4. Restaurant
  5. I Came All This Way
  6. Long Forgotten Song
  7. I’m So Sorry
  8. No More Empty Words
  9. Teenager
  10. Should’ve Known Better
  11. There’s Joy To Be Found…The Boy Who Caught All The Breaks