South London band Happyness are due to re-release their debut album A Weird Little Birthday out this month on Moshi Moshi Records in the UK and Bar None Records in the States. This time it is being released with 4 bonus tracks. The sound is grungy, fuzzy and lo-fi.
The re-release follows the band’s amazing 2014 which saw them being nominated for awards left right and centre – making the NME’s Best Newcomers lists and The Sunday Times’ Best Albums of The Year. Recorded in the band’s Jelly Boy Studios, the record was mixed by Adam Lasus (Daniel Johnston, Yo La Tengo) and features Ed Harcourt on vocals in “Pumpin Noir”.
“Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)” opens the release with Happyness’s signature lo-fi vocals and a chilled out feel accompanied by an amusing tale about Jesus stealing birthday thunder. “Naked Patients” sees more lo-fi guitar goodness with female vocals picking up just the right notes before “Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste the Same” which is very Pavement-esque shows off their lyrical prowess; “You’re cheesy like you don’t know… Sink in the sand, I’m a sucker for this domestic shit” and “I like you but I wouldn’t eat you”. Other cutting remarks scatter the album in “Orange Luz”, “You’re so ugly when you’re smiling”, in “High Energy”, “I can’t get away, what makes you think I’d want to anyway” and “Monkey In The City”, “I could break your legs, putting thoughts in my head”.
“Refrigerate Her” is a short track at under a minute and a half but the band pack in the tinny guitar and digital zaps before vocals and drums burst through. The sentiment is oddly romantic; I’ve got a new refrigerator and I think you’ll fit just fine. I’ve got a new refrigerator, now I could have you at any time”. “Pumpkin Noir” is a slower track with piano notes interspersed however it’s still very adolescent; “I’ve got an orange tongue from my orange bubblegum”.
Half way through the 14 track album, “Weird Little Birthday Girl” is solely instrumental, a fitting interlude. The new tracks have been added at the end of the album. “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere” sees a lovely guitar solo and gentle vocals; “you’re drawing letters on your skin, to take you up and bring you down again and it’s alright”. “Stop Whaling” is also down tempo before “You Come To Kill Me!” provides a noisier guitar sound. Vocals jump around a bit more, and are reminiscent of The Hold Steady in the chorus especially.
Out as a single on March 30th added extra “A Whole New Shape” is a party track with all over noise and high-pitched vocals. In fact, all of the added tracks point to an even noisier lo-fi sound for the band in the future. And mixed with their youthful energy, grungy sound but with introspection too, Happyness are up there with Pavement, Yo La Tengo and Wilco.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.