Album: So Much For The City
. . .
With song titles like “Santa Cruz (You’re Not That Far),” “Big Sur” and “Don’t Steal Our Sun,” you might expect that The Thrills — how did that name go unused until the 21st century? — were a group that came from sunny California.
But that was just an aspiration: it turned out that The Thrills came from the decidedly unsunny Dublin, Ireland, and had no real experience with the subject matter — instead, lead singer Conor Deasy just basically made up what he thought might happen in these places, and those tales permeated their debut, 2003’s So Much For The City.
And because much of of the music was as sunny — to me, they were filtering the Beach Boys and Byrds through the lens of R.E.M. — when it worked, it really worked, like on my favorite track “One Horse Town,” which had me before they even go to the chorus.
“One Horse Town” opens with a piano fanfare, followed by an arpeggiated guitar from Padraic McMahon as Ben Carrigan’s drums come in, which start double-timing as Deasy starts singing the first line over a sustained organ blast from Kevin Horan:
Yeah you’re burning
Oh you’re burning
My ears with your travelling tales
This opening verse is followed by a full-band “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” over the pounding drums and jangling guitar, and kiddos, it’s absolute heaven, each and every time the do it, like after the second verse.
But my in-laws
Oh, baby, my in-laws
Well, they’re trying to tie a young man down
There’s also a great chorus, featuring McMahon overdubbing a banjo and some great harmonies on “Hanging around in a one-horse town”, and, even better, a modulation at the end. Just classic guitar pop in a period where that felt totally unexpected.
And somehow, “One Horse Town” was kind of a hit here, making it to #4 on the US Adult Alternative Airplay charts, but it was an actual hit overseas, making it to #18 on the U.K. singles charts and #4 on the Ireland singles charts. The album was even bigger, topping the Irish charts, natch, but also #3 on the U.K. album charts. It didn’t do anything here, of course.
“One Horse Town”
“One Horse Town” Official Music Video
“One Horse Town” Live on Conan O’Brien, 2003
“One Horse Town” Live on Jay Leno, 2004
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