The most Californian band in Dublin turn their heads homewards

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Score 4

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Pat Sounds

Restless souls, these Thrills. As five Dublin dreamers, they penned a debut album? 2003’s half-million-selling So Much For The City?full of surf-folk snapshots from the month’s holiday they once had in San Diego. Given more Venice Beach-time, they’ve now produced a second effort besotted with the desolation and romance of inner-city Ireland. Out are drowsy Pacific resorts, sand in hair and Las Vegas as vampiric metaphor for love. In are “Faded Beauty Queens”, drunken kebab shop punch-ups, bad sex and wasted lives. Seems the grass has never looked greener back home.

As front-runners of a gaggle of California-infatuated bands from this side of the Atlantic (HAL, Thirteen Senses, Ambershades), however, The Thrills sensibly don’t stray too far musically from their debut’s evocations of Neil Young skimming pebbles with The Beach Boys. Van Dyke Parks guests here, alongside Peter Buck. Opener “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” threatens a new Britpop direction for 20 seconds, then the Wild West piano tinkles, the five-part harmonies descend like it’s raining Pet Sounds and Conor Deasey’s croak woos us once again.

Bolder and brassier than before, …Bohemia is also painfully bittersweet. The guilt of the LA tan shines through on “You Can’t Fool Old Friends With Limousines”, while “Found My Rosebud” and “The Irish Keep Gate-Crashing” smack of the poolside revelation that There’s No Place Like Home. Yet even when treading through broken bottles in Temple Bar at chucking out time (as on “Saturday Night”), there’s a charming naivety to The Thrills that is forever Malibu.