The opener "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" is a bit of a tease as the first chord crashes in like George Harrison's on "A Hard Days Night", then develops a Bowie-esque, glam swagger before hopping back to upbeat guitar pop for the rest of the album. Still sounding roughly as they did on So Much for the City, their style has developed more of its own identity, partly due to the lack of obvious American influences that recurred throughout their debut. "Faded Beauty Queens" and "You Can't Fool Old Friends With Limousines" are insanely catchy, reminiscent of "Don't Steal Our Sun" and "Big Sur"; "Whatever Happened to Corey Haim" is a rousing Phil Spector-esque wall of beautifully arranged sound; and "Not for All the Love in the World" is a rhythm-heavy ballad, led by a booming piano, the only downbeat song on the album. The album closer and sure to be live favourite is "The Irish Keep Gatecrashing", another catchy, almost jig-like number with a fantastic falsetto and harmonies in the chorus, a perfect way to finish the album. If Lets Bottle Bohemia needed to be summed up in one phrase it would have to be "quality over quantity". --David Trueman
It gets off to a very promising start with "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" - a strong piano melody and drums with a strident vocal over a Hammond organ backing. This is followed by their latest single "Whatever Happened To Corey Haim"; three minutes and thirty-four seconds of great pop. Personally I think the strings are a little overdone but Van Dyke Parks (string arranger for Brian Wilson's Smile amongst others) probably knows better. Peter Buck provides some extra guitar backing on the next song "Faded Beauty Queens". Apparently the R.E.M guitarist dropped into a Thrills gig in Seattle and subsequently agreed to play on the track.
The Dubliners' influences still sound more Stateside than Celtic. Note the references to gas rather than petrol and the songs discussing the American Dream. No doubt their producer Dave Sardy, who has produced Marilyn Manson and Johnny Cash, contributed to this American sound. The band have verve, youth and vigour and their ebullient style puts me in mind of The Monkees until I listen to the lyrics. Can you imagine Davy Jones singing about "a hooker with a heart of gold"?
These songs are not as cutesy as they first appear, they contain a dark element that gives them a certain depth. Written by the singer Conor Deasy, they frequently have a maturity that belie his young years but during others he comes across as a carefree lad who doesn't want to get tied down.
During a recent interview Deasy revealed that this album was pretty much written on the road. This was in stark contrast to their debut album that had been carefully honed before recording started. Let's Bottle Bohemia was recorded straight from raw demos and they are keen to keep such spontaneity going. In fact their main writer and singer is already chomping at the bit to get started on the third album and if that turns out anything like the last two - bring it on! --Niky Daley
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