Pete Droge, Shawn Mullins, and Matthew Sweet make up The Thorns, a neo-supergroup that's part homage to classic easygoing California folk-rock, and part creative rejuvenation for three commercially faded guitar-pop troubadours. Produced and mixed by modern-rock soundsmith Brendan O'Brien, The Thorns' eponymous debut has the crisp shimmer of current radio product, while spotlighting harmonies and jangle familiar to fans of Crosby, Stills & Nash and its musical antecedents (or followers like Crosby/Byrds fan Tom Petty, whose sound The Thorns' most resembles). It's not too surprising that the three-man setup gives flesh to Mullins' wan singer-songwriter moves and twinkle to Droge's occasionally bland rootsiness. But it's especially appealing to hear the project reawaken Sweet, whose last couple of records have been accomplished-but-unexciting retreads of his early-'90s power-pop breakthroughs. The Thorns track "I Can't Remember" is a fairly standard dreamy Sweet ballad that gains vitality from Droge and Mullins' harmonizing and sideman Roy Bittan's keyboard work. Making room for other voices and other instruments seems to have loosened Sweet up, letting him breathe more freely. That's assuming that "I Can't Remember" is primarily a Sweet composition; The Thorns' songwriting credits are mostly shared, and all three voices appear on every track, leaving only the trio's personal quirks to cue which member is playing ringleader. Even those hints can be hard to discern, given the way the group actively evokes CSN and The Eagles, but the overt throwback exercises, like the gentle "Think It Over" and the forbidding "Dragonfly," offer some of The Thorns' best moments. The album's biggest problem is that it's not thorough enough: As enjoyable as fresh pop nuggets like "No Blue Sky" and "I Set The World On Fire" are, other similarly new-sounding tracks could stand more "Dragonfly"-style mustiness, if only because the nostalgic air is so paradoxically novel. The disc as a whole would also benefit from subject matter that matches the band's style, instead of an overarching tone of bittersweet romantic lament that's more in line with the self-obsessed late '90s than the mystic, communal early '70s. If there's a follow-up (and there should be), perhaps Droge, Mullins, and Sweet will give more thought to what makes a Thorns song, besides the gleaming surfaces.