10
Sep 04

THE SQUARE TABLE 16 / The Thrills – “Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?”

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POP FACTOR: 288 CONTROVERSY RATING: 226

The problem with retro in a pop context: absorbing the lesson that things were better back when can limit you. If you believe in the golden past then maybe you subconsciously believe that all YOU can do is put your tiny footprint in the vast sandy tread of [whoever], and so no matter how big you get your records are always smaller than they could/should/need to be.

Don’t buy it? Well, I can’t think of any other reason the Thrills might imagine this horrid, mewling thing would somehow do. It’s just so… it’s like, if you visit a city farm or pet shop and one animal has a litter of babies and the litter includes a runt. And at first you think, aw. But then as you keep looking, and the other babies rush to the nipple and jostle and start to show a bit of spirit and grow different enough from one another to earn names, the runt just gets what little it can and sits away from the others, twitching, sniffling, ugly, half-hairless, waiting to die. And your affection turns to pity and then to a kind of half-ashamed contempt. And you look away.

All that is what I think of when I hear the singer of The Thrills go “ooh!”, which in this pitiful record he does, a lot. I also think of Tim Henman’s air punches, and having to eat cereal with water because the milk’s run out, and the first love poems I threw away. None of these are attractive or happy thoughts. I think what I’m trying to say is that I hate The Thrills. 0 (Tom)

And I said, “What about Prayer of the Rollerboys?” And she said, “I think I remember that film, and as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it.” And I said, “What does kissing really mean to me? To me, if you feel, when you kiss a girl, that certain feeling of all those dolphins, like, swimming through your blood stream, and you get those good tingles inside your stomach, I don’t think there’s any better feeling. It basically comes down to that word: Love. I guess that’s what it’s all about.” But she started to holler. So I had to hit it. Hit it. Hit it! HIT IT!

But then I shut off this godforsaken painfully dorky smug piece of shit song, and everything went back to normal. No more wispy mewling, no more gratuitous string crescendos, no more ironic references to the American Dream and Andy Warhol that mean so fucking much when attached to the sordid tale of a has-been party-boy actor so far gone he’s reduced to selling pieces of himself on eBay, because fame is fleeting and fickle DO YOU SEE!?!, and this rote message is so damn important to get out there that it should be set to song-not-song and foisted upon unsuspecting listeners like so much junk mail. Please please PLEASE if you have a shred of dignity within your bosom return this trite shit to sender postage due and change your address yesterday. 0 plus JOKER (David Raposa)

come back travis all is forgiven 0 (Carsmile Steve)

If The Thrills are “pop craftsmen” of any sort, they’re like over-enthusiastic kitchen fitters, doing the hard sell by giving you two extra sinks and a superfluous breakfast bar. Case in point- theycram an “oo… girl I say oo” ladies-man interlude next to the “whatever happened to…” blokes-in-a-bar nostalgia. There’s no continuity of mood, instead just a lot of fatuously combined rock personas in the one song. Strings, Rod Stewart, theremins, fender rhodes, Steve Harley- they’re all here, and none of them and nobody knows why. 0 (Derek Walmsley)

So much for the shitty. The novelty of “ooh gosh they’re doing a song about Corey Haim” doesn’t even make it to the bridge (as if I even know what a bridge is). I’ve read nothing but high praise in the critical circles these last two years about The Thrills and their winsome early-70’s California pop, but this here is fake maudlin dreck, not fit to clean David Crosby’s water bong with. And who even really cares about Corey Haim, anyway? 2 (Henry Scollard)

Another Thrills single, another unimaginative rush of criminal banality threatening moment by moment to morph into something more magnificent. The “Ooh”s in the chorus are delived with feeling, but there’s only so much sex that can be squeezed from a voice as castrated as this one. 3 (Atnevon)

Ah, The Thrills, it’s like you’ve never been gone. Or like you were never here. One of the two, I get confused.

When I try to remember what this song sounds like I end up with their earlier ‘hit’ Santa Cruz (You’re Not That Far), which I’m still convinced was not written by mortal man but formed from the secreted pheromones of a thousand dull and earnest Brian-Wilson-worshipping bedroom rockists. It’s just been hanging about ever since, a fuzzy miasma, waiting for a suitably blank-faced set of indie-mopped young men to shuffle and burble amiably beneath it. Aren’t you glad it was the Thrills were caught in its cloying cloud and not you? I know I am.

Relisten, and yes this does sound like Santa Cruz, ie like any and every other Thrills song: unassuming sunkissed California pop except from Ireland and what indie people call pop as opposed to actual pop music, etcetera etcetera. They try to inject a little individuality into it by singing ‘oooh!’ every so often in constipated ways. It doesn’t render it any less forgettable. 3 (Cis)

The post-Neil Young ‘straining to reach all the notes’ technique must be the worst method of singing anywhere in pop. Wayne Coyne, Jonathan Donohue, Thingy from Grandaddy – there’s something I find hugely uncomfortable about listening to blokes audibly unable to reach the high notes singing, more often than not, nothing but high notes.

The Thrills take this step one step further by grafting the singer’s half-yelp-half-whimper on top of a cod-Motown stomp for which it is completely unsuited, with the end result aking to trying to skip through treacle. After seeing his career nosedive, the real Corey Haim apparently filed for bankruptcy and then checked into rehab – now the poor sod has this as his epitaph. And all because The Thrills couldn’t think of a rhyme for ‘Guttenberg’. 3 (Matt ‘Santa’ D’Cruz)

It always surprises me when my habitual dislike of the “whiney male voice”, found in so much indie rock, disappears. My swoons over Superpitcher’s house re-working of “The Dream of Evan & Chan” and the experimental musings of The Animal Collective suggests that my vocal block stems from the run-of-the-mill musical context the whiney voice is often placed in, not the actual voice itself. My indifference towards “Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?” looks to be more proof of that train-of-thought. It is a pleasant mid-tempo pop / rock song. Lead singer Conor Deasy hesitantly whines over a string section. It is as exciting as that description sounds. 3 (Michael F Gill)

I quite like his voice: it has a hint of that high plaintiveness you hear in Neil Young or J Mascis. It doesn’t come off at all where he tries to punch an ‘ooh!’, though. It’s a wet and dreary and limp song, about someone I had to check IMDB for. Their would-be West Coast stylings rather exasperate me too. The vocal mostly makes it tolerable, but I still couldn’t stand to play it as many times as I normally do these Square Table singles. 3 (Martin Skidmore)

I rather liked the first Thrills album, in a weedy West Coast but actually from Bognor sort of way. Therefore I kinda like this, the way i kinda liked Cowboys, the first single off of the second Portishead album. It offers nothing new, merely the sad suggestion that this is all that The Thrills can do, and here they are beefing it up with a pop culture reference which seems to miss the point. 4 (Pete)

Have these clowns never heard of Teh Modern Interweb? I found out what Haim has been up to straight away. So really this song does not need to exist because it’s a question easily answered. This is probably a metaphor for a more general ‘where does the time/youth go’ lament but it’s definitely hella dull and they make me wish Dodgy would come back and blow them out of the water – I mean with actual weapons, not that Dodgy are that much better than The Thrills (just more honest). I’m not sure where the current trend for 80s references in song (see also Franz Ferdinand, Estelle) is going – the 90s presumably. I am more interested in finding out what happened to Alex Winter anyway – so off to Google once again I go… 4 (Steve M)

I can’t stand bands who don’t bother doing any research, it’s laziness.

It’s not at all hard to find out what happened to Corey Haim, you could just check the Internet Movie Database, and you’d see he was in loads of films since Lost Boys. In fact, he has a film called “Universal Groove” in post-production, it’s about the underground party scene.

I imagine I’m not the only one to comment on the ease in which the song title’s can be answered. The whole square table will probably just be comments about IMDB and whatnot…oh, the song? It’s okay, the kind of song you don’t need to hear more han 4 or 5 times. 5 (Jel)

I haven’t really listened to the song properly yet really as I just keep getting distracted by other things. It’s just that it sounds exactly how you would expect a Thrills comeback song to sound like. Less than thrilling, just another quaint little rock song. Rising vocals, token strings and a sing-a-long chorus for your campfire kumba-ya moments. Trying to listen to this is like looking for your misplaced car keys – you keep looking in the same places over and over expecting to find something but nothing turns up. The harmonies seem nicer than usual and the inane subject matter does appeal to some small part of me. All this sounds like a nice solid 6. (MW_Jimmy)

These guys sound like a more sincere version of They Might Be Giants. Or a happier grunged out Oasis. It’s awful hard to really dislike this; the soul strings and headbobbin’ keys and drums make for a good time and the unprepossessing nature of the lead vocals make for critical teflon. It’s a nice late summer happy jam: silly sugary poppariffic instant nostalgia. I don’t think I need something this flimsy to be my generation’s “Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio” but as long as it only sticks around for a few months on the FM dial, I don’t think it’s gonna drive me TOO nuts. 6 (Forksclovetofu)

Funny, I didn’t think a band stuck in the sunny 60/70s could foresee 80s pout
hunk Corey Haim being a lost boy in the 00s. To answer these lads question: selling molars on Ebay and checking into rehab. 7 (Stevie Nixed)

Comments

  1. 1
    Tom on 10 Mar 2010 #

    I had forgotten writing the top review here. Thanks Matt for reminding me!

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