It took the Natural Thrill some time to get all their pieces together, but when the four-piece band finally fell in place, a polished EP was created.
The Huntington Beach-based rock-reggae fusion band has been together for barely six months, but their five-track self-titled EP makes it seem like they've been making music for much longer.
Frontman Geoff Moss and drummer Chuy Vidales had been playing in Austin, Texas, in a band called Project MOSS. Lead guitarist Conrad Bauer was playing as a session artist for record label XACT Production in Los Angeles. And bassist Sean Erickson was internationally touring with reggae band Top Shelf.
But after the duo from Project MOSS relocated back to Huntington Beach and brought in Bauer and Erickson to complete the band, the gears were finally in motion and the crew pushed out an EP that showcased their versatility.
There's a general song structure Natural Thrill follows in most of their songs, where they begin with a rock intro and transition to a ska or reggae-type beat.
This pattern switches back and forth from verse to chorus and almost every bridge in between. It may sound off-putting to some, but it actually works.
Natural Thrill someone blends the two together, making it feel like you really are listening to one song instead of two different tracks.
The EP opens with the track "Believe," which at the beginning hints that the song might have some ska or reggae influence. Once the first verse comes around, those influences become apparent.
The song is laid-back, laced with simple upchucks (ska terminology for a fast upward strum), Moss' smooth voice and Bauer's guitar solo that isn't overbearing.
"Sad Girl" brings the mood down and incorporates an interesting element to the song: a delay pedal.
By the time the song reaches the second verse, either Bauer or Moss uses a delay on his guitar, giving the song a more airy ambience. It reminds me of the delay riffs from the Angel & Airwaves song "The Adventure."
The mixture of cross-sticking from the snare drum and the delayed guitar give the song a lightness that, despite the song's downbeat quality, won't make you feel like a sad girl or boy.
Picking the mood back up is the third track, "Dancing in the Fire." Unforgettable harmonizing guitars kick off the song and have your head nodding in no time.
The heavier riffs have you believe that the song will be like that the entire way through, but if you forgot about their song structure, the switch to a ska beat will blindside you a bit.
There's a copious use of the wah pedal in the chorus, which I can do without. It's a bit distracting and raunchy. But once you pass that, your ears are treated to Bauer and Moss harmonizing their guitars.
Now comes "Run," the wild-card song on this EP. Listening to this song over and over again, I couldn't find a single trace of ska or reggae.
It's the most alternative rock-sounding track they have, and I don't think it fits in with who they are.
During the song, they try harmonizing the guitars with a wail, but it sounds fake or overproduced and, like this song, doesn't fit in well.
"Too Late For Love" is hands-down my favorite song on the EP. It's simple and has a solid composition, with a somewhat haunting undertone.
Everything just seems to snap in place for this song. The drums carry the beat well, not being overbearing, and pop up with catchy fills where appropriate. The bass line is practically the supporting instrument in this track. It adds a smooth jazz feel to the choruses and breaks up some of the monotony of the song.
The verses lull you into a relaxing state, with soft, airy guitars in the background. But Moss' voice and lyrics brings a sad and heartbroken undertone, making you think of a strained relationship you once had. It's almost reminiscent of Staind's "It's Been Awhile," but with a Huntington Beach twist and beach feel.
If this was a full-length album, I still would have placed this song toward the end of the tracklist. It makes for a strong song to wrap up an album.
Though it was a well-packaged EP, it left me wanting more. If you go to the Natural Thrill's YouTube channel, there's a nine-and-a-half-minute cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." It starts off with that iconic, gentle chord progression in the intro but drastically turns into a freestyle-funk cover filled with solos from all the band members.
I'm looking forward to these guys dropping a full-length album in the future, but until then, this EP will have to do. It may be too late for love, but it isn't too late for this band to make waves in Huntington Beach.
Go to thenaturalthrill.com for upcoming shows.