In the 50's and 60's, the California Lifestyle was something to behold. It seemed as close to heaven as mere mortals could get. The term didn't refer to the entire state but rather a ten-mile wide stripe facing the ocean extending from Santa Barbara to San Diego. TV, films and especially music sang the state's praises. Not that they had to do all that much. The scenery was stunning and the people were lively and attractive; dedicated to the pursuit of happiness (as hardly imagined by the founding fathers). They had everything (wonderful homes, hot cars and guitars) and tons of stuff that was useless elsewhere (sun tan lotion, outdoor pools and surfboards). That was before California (the whole state) became a social, economic and environmental nightmare. So who can blame musicians for nostalgically returning to that "golden glided age?" The interesting thing was The Thrills, who mined Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Neil Young and other purveyors of the legendary California sound, hailed from Dublin, a place far removed from California ethos. That only illustrated SoCal's pervasiveness. Of course, the image out-stripped the reality but what an image!
Deasy and Ryan were neighbors growing up, both obsessed with music. They recruited fellow classmates to complete the line-up. What began as an appreciation of California's musical/social heritage soon became adoration. It was a four-month trip in '99 to San Diego that confirmed the group's direction. A junket to San Francisco a year later sealed the deal. In '03, they released "So Much For The City" with "Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)."
The song titles on The Thrills' "So Much For The City" tell the tale. "Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)," "Big Sur," "Don't Steal Our Sun" and "Hollywood Kids" reference the golden state. Several songs come across like Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield working with a couple Beach Boys. The Thrills ply a melodic sound, intricate harmonies and smooth chord changes offset by jagged tempo variations. Ballad "Deckchairs & Cigarettes" asks "don't change a thing." The desire to keep their world intact is a recurring theme. Having seen the California dream crash once before (approximately the time Charlie Manson was running loose, though it would have ended without him) there's probably a reluctance to mess it up again. "Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)" and "Big Sur" have a cheery, loping rhythm. The accessible "Don't Steal Our Sun," with its layered vocals, would not have been out of place in '66. Though Young, The Byrds, Beach Boys and countless others eventually abandoned this approach it has retained its appeal. "So Much For The City" proves the rule: The latest converts are always the most faithful.