4 out of 5
Produced by: Dave Sardy
Oh god, that Sardy magic.
You know what I’ve heard before? The Thrills, or rather, rock-lite groups like The Thrills, with a catchy R.E.M. strum, accessibly insightful lyrics, and Beach Boys harmonies. Several groups do this, and whichever one catches your ear with a single is your fave. For a while. So The Thrills hit notability with their debut, So Much For the City, and I have no memory of that disc even though we played it very much so in the record shoppes and the kiddles and the oldles bought it. I went back to dyeing my hair and punk rocking, or whatever I did then.
You know what I hadn’t heard before? A group of The Thrills caliber, enthused through production that embraces the music’s daintiness but in a way that embraces its rock n’ roll heart. The catchiness remains, but suddenly the light dusting of drums and strums become things you instantly want to bob your head along to and sing the lyrics aloud. Not that the lyrics are especially special – although I do credit Thrills’ guy Conor Deasy for penning atypical relationship and livin’ life songs that avoid easy rhymes and repetition – just that the songs suddenly hit your heart in the way that great music can. Dave Sardy shed off whatever genre The Thrills were playing to and fleshed out the band, and the resulting Let’s Bottle Bohemia is an absolute kick because of it. This is the same magic with which he’d shaped Oasis’ best albums, and lest you think I’m giving the producer a heck of a lot of credit when it’s the band writing the songs… well, yes, you’re correct. But I totally agree: The Thrills wrote this stuff; I just prefer Sardy’s “ear” for spicing it up in a way that appeals.
There is a limited set of chords going on here, such that some tracks sound rather similar, as well as a strange addiction to rather unnecessary codas on some tracks, but Let’s Bottle Bohemia is such a strong, pleasing surprise otherwise, all those catchy pop elements stripped of affectation and allowed to shine.