Thursday, 7 January 2016
No Apologies For The Infinite Radness 1.1.7 - "Deckchairs and Cigarettes" (The Thrills)
There is almost always far more truth in sadness.
Most of So Much For The City was a lie, of course. Recently dropped by their label, their future seemingly swept from under them, the Thrills were a band with no idea of where to go or what to do when they got there. As a result their debut is defiantly, almost comically upbeat, all warm nostalgic smiles for a past not their own. If life as a struggling Irish indie-pop band wasn't going to cut it, then why not conjure up a fictitious life of travelling from town to town in sunny California, itself a fictional version of itself where the biggest problems are settling for just one gorgeous girl or whether the local cool kids are sufficiently down with wherever you've rocked up to?
"Deckchairs and Cigarettes" - both the saddest song on the record and the only of the first five tracks to not be released as a single, these two facts being almost certainly connected - is where the truth comes out. There was nothing to do that summer but sit in deckchairs, smoke cigarettes, and wait for autumn to bring the recording sessions that might now never amount to anything. It's not that the story of Golden State sun-powered skipping is entirely abandoned, but now it's something distant, something they need to get to (return to, actually, given the band's history) but simply can't, any more than they could get back to the breathless optimism that characterised their earlier stabs at the material that ended up on this album.
But whilst the song is drenched in sorrow and the fear of wasted potential - and what could be less Pacific Southwest and more British Isles than linking restless disappointment to summer? - it's not without its defiance. "Don't change a thing, don't change a thing", Deasey sings in the final lines. The world might be collapsing around the nascent band, but that doesn't mean they should change direction. Let the world reassemble itself around you; it'll be OK. For all that Deasey has been criticised for obvious, vague cliche, there are times when only the simple will do, and this is one of them. It's a strong end to low, foggy lyrics that then give way to a quite lovely coda, all sliding guitars and melancholy piano, with Deasey's soft wordless vocals like gusts of wind on a windswept Irish Sea beach.
(It also features at 3:50 one of my favourite ever moments in music as the song's chord progression is switched from piano to acoustic guitar mid-cycle. Astonishing.)
So much for the Californian city, then. For the best moment the Thrills ever had, you don't go to San Diego. You go to Dublin, and you wait for the summer to leave.