You really want to resent the Thrills–five lanky, hank-haired 24-year-olds from Dublin whose leader, Conor Deasy, sings just like Jeff Tweedy. The band scored a deal with Virgin for their first album, So Much for the City, and the little bastards were invited to play their London debut at the Royal Albert Hall by Morrissey himself. Their mythology reeks of the four-car garage: according to their bio, in 1999 they “followed their muse to a beach in San Diego, where they sat on a sofa for four months, writing songs,” and for a year they lied to their financiers–uh, folks–claiming they had a deal when they didn’t. But mayhap all that leisure is just part of the European Dream we American bohos envy so, or maybe they just have that combo of cocksureness and talent that makes four months of ramen biscuit seem a sound bet. I could swallow the latter. The deliberate tempos of their glowing country-pop compositions feel self-assured, not draggy; the slow, descending string-orchestra chords on “Old Friends, New Lovers,” for instance, help knit simple tearjerker lyrics (“Such a shame when old friends fall out”) and constipated guitar mewling into a fit eulogy for ruined amity. The Thrills’ hippie-era Golden State influences make them easy fodder for praise and slams: Google ’em with “Beach Boys” and you get some 6,000 hits. But the old masters have made it further through their bowels than even the band claims–they sound more like Wilco on a Beach Boys jag. Though it complements the doldrums at first, per No Depression protocol, So Much for the City’s ooh-wah backups and sunset touches of banjo and–what is that, xylophone?–give you juice to motor out of there. This show’s free, and at press time there was no opening band. Saturday, January 31, 8 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Max Dodson.