“Let’s Bottle Bohemia”
by Eric Myers
The Thrills second album arrives at indie-rock’s slow metamorphosis into mainstream as alternative pop punk loses its tenuous grasp on the stereo airwaves. The same magic trick looks the same at all angles. Blink 182? Sum 41? Good Charlotte? Good grief. Another rabbit, yeah yeah yeah. It’s got white stripes so you stroke it; it gives me the hives.
So where do groups that bridge the gap between pop and alternative and indie and mainstream come in? Groups like The Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, Ben Kweller, add your own cool group? Groups like The Thrills that, like Modest Mouse on their most recent album, have one or two catchy songs, that can’t be described as anything but, padding an album filled with imitation of the aforementioned bands. The Thrills offer “Saturday Night” as a Flaming Mouse blend of indie-pop-whine, but damn if it don’t stick in the head a la Mouse’s “Float On.” “The Curse of Comfort” is jangle pop fun with the catchy, identifiable, not-sure-why-it’s-not-the-title tagline “…love could always get in the way,” and “Not for All the Love in the World” is a solid Flaming Lips ballad credited to The Thrills. I heard they found it on the cutting room floor of the Lips recording studio and passed it off as something of their on. And then they passed off their entire sound. That’s just what I heard.
Another Flaming Lips a bad thing? Definitely not. The Thrills album is more country than the Lips, more mainstream than the Lips, and more retro than the Lips. Yet, where’s the edge? The insanity? The off beats that propel The Flaming Lips beyond an artistic footnote? If the Flaming Lips go mainstream (with their sound, not when they bring the whole genre into the mainstream during the metamorphosis. Thought you’d catch me on that one?), they’ll sound a lot like The Thrills. And then the indie world will come crashing down. The sky will open up and there will be no law, there will only be redundancy.
Seriously, is redundancy a bad thing if you like the bands they’re imitating? Not necessarily. For all comparisons aside, you could do a lot worse this Christmas season than asking for a copy of Let’s Bottle Bohemia. Emphasis on “copy.” It’s only ten songs long, and you’d better like The Flaming Lips. Seriously.