The Thrills

Teenager (Virgin)

The Thrills' 2003 debut, So Much for the City, was a fanciful homage to the California myth, as filtered through the Day-Glo haze of wistful '70s euphoria. Its playful imagery summoned endless vistas of surf and sand, idealized and admired from a vantage point somewhat distant and distinct. It's not surprising that, as awestruck Irishmen, they had a view that leaned more toward romance than reality. Appropriately, perhaps, the band's sophomore offering, Let's Bottle Bohemia, was a somewhat sobering set, given to varied narratives about disappointment and disenchantment.

This third time around, the Thrills backtrack yet again, tapping into subjects they're clearly more familiar with firsthand. Examining the breach between childhood and maturity, Teenager finds a reassuring meld of optimism and reality, resulting in the group's most embracing effort yet. Singer Conor Deasy's vocals — as tenuous and fragile as ever — express the uncertainty of grappling with far-flung emotions and imminent possibilities. From the unabashed exuberance of "The Midnight Choir" and "This Year" to the regret-and-remorse-steeped "Should've Known Better" and "I'm So Sorry," the songs fixate on choices that bear critical concerns.

"I envy your youth," Deasy tells his muse as the album winds down, expressing the reality that maturity brings opportunities far less open-ended. It's a sadder sentiment lurking on the fringes of Teenager's otherwise radiant glow.

 
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