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So Much for the City
Artist: The Thrills
Label: Emi Int'l
Length: 11

It would be so easy for us Irish to have a go at The Thrills. Here they are, from the last DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) train stop Blackrock, name dropping exotic Californian towns. We get Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Hollywood, Las Vegas (I know it is Nevada but you know what I mean!). It would be easy to see a betrayal of roots, and who needs to give them any more loyalty than they gave home? But then this album is just so amazingly brilliant that if they are from Dublin, we Irish are simply as proud as punch. Love hides a multitude of contradictions.

As I wrote that last sentence my two-year-old peered around the corner with the coolest multicolored shades. It is a typically overcast day with more outbursts of rain than sunshine in my north Irish coast location. Those shades, though a little out of place, brighten up the world. So it is with The Thrills. They do not just name drop Californian places, they steal its very sun and haul it back home with the spirit of blue skies, blinding suns, sandy beaches, and refreshing Pacific Ocean surf. Imagine all that at Dun Laoghaire harbor. Turn on So Much for the City and you can feel the warmth on your back. It is summer listening like nothing else. You might even need to put on sun block. The Beach Boys never got close.

Many have uttered the tired old "next U2" line. Although The Frames is more senior in that particular succession and Bell X1 has released an album that might have more artistic ambition, rarely has a debut album sounded so assured. The depth of lyrical content does not put The Thrills in the same cosmos as Bono and the boys, but it might just match U2 on commercial terms. This album certainly has more hit singles between its covers than Thriller or Born In the USA ever dreamed of. The band's Glastonbury success and phenomenal chart placing the following week suggest that the future might indeed need my daughter's shades.

Steve Stockman 8/28/2003

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has just finished a book on U2, Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2, is the poetic half of Stevenson and Samuel who have just released their debut album Gracenotes, and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ He has his own web page--Rhythms of Redemption at He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine. 

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