The Thrills' debut record, So Much for the City, lived up to the band's name and then some. Thrilling, epic, fun, funny, and at times brilliant, it was a debut that seemed difficult to follow, and indeed, Let's Bottle Bohemia can't quite live up to its promise. It's a good little rock & roll record, though. The songs are concise and melodic, Conor Deasy's voice still breathlessly winds its way into your heart, and the band still sounds tight and wire-sharp as before. There are quite a few killer songs, too, like "Tell Me Something I Don't Know," which opens the disc with a rollicking blast of rock & roll fervor; "Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?," a bouncing pop song built on a funky keyboard line and bolstered by a Van Dyke Parks-arranged string section; the melancholy ballad "Not for All the Love in the World"; and the swirling "The Irish Keep Gate-Crashing." What is missing is the sense of wide-eyed wonder and excitement, both from the band and for the listener. The band wrote the record while touring and, like many conceived that way, the lyrics are a little forced and uninspired, the subjects not as immediately interesting as the California worship of So Much. The record is helmed by D. Sardy (who has worked with bands like Bush, Marilyn Manson, and System of a Down), and he manages to pull off the deadly combo of over-produced and under-arranged. The songs are very slick sounding and most lack the little instrumental hooks and dynamic shifts that, again, made the debut so much fun to listen to. The listener can't get quite as worked up both because the band is no longer new and because the record is so obviously cut from the same cloth as So Much for the City, only now the cloth is a little faded. Still, a faded Thrills disc is more exciting and invigorating than 98 percent of the records out there, and there's absolutely nothing for the band to be ashamed of on Let's Bottle Bohemia. If this was their first album, people would be gushing over it, proclaiming that the Thrills are full of promise, a band to watch, and all those other clichés pop writers love so much. So take this for what it's worth: a really good record by a potentially great rock & roll band.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra