Released: March 2015
They must be putting something in the water in South London. Not only have Fat White Family and Yak been heralded with plaudits left, right and centre, but in comes South London’s Happyness with the most interesting, experimental and downright unconventional album of the year.
If you’ve heard of Happyness you should come to expect tunes like It’s On You and Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same which offer youthful exuberance alleviated by messy vocals that offer what you’d come to expect of an indie band nowadays: not knowing what you’re doing with your life, but not really giving a shit.
However, what surprised me about their debut album, Weird Little Birthday, was their beautiful, hazey, Velvet Underground-era Lou Reed inspired melancholic ballads. Pumpkin Noir, easily the best song from the album, is something you’d find in a David Lynch film. It’s fuzzy, it’s downcast and it’s borderline genius. It also offers the catchiest chorus of the album, which is impressive going in an album with Refridgerate Her and the album opener Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy).
Refrigerate Her is Happyness at their most conventional. It’s 1:18 of pure indie rock, inspired by the 21st Century’s best of the genre: The White Stripes and The Strokes. Musically, their songs call on American artists such as Pavement, Rilo Kiley and Sparklehorse – but where Happyness come into their own is their wonderfully British, witty lyrics. Pumpkin Noir offers the most English of the lot; filled with classics such as “My TV dinner is almost done” and “going to a club in an unfriendly part of town”, it almost sums up an English lifestyle in a song.
The album is self-produced by the band, which explains the outright craziness of it. It’s the stuff of pacing nightmares, but somehow, someway, everything seems to come together. Anything I do Is All Right is a classic two-minute floor stomper that leads into Weird Little Birthday Girl, which is an eight-minute song that sits down, puts its feet up and smokes a pipe. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition and that’s exactly how I’d describe the album as a whole.
It’s a walking contradiction. It switches emotion at the drop of the hat. It changes pace quicker than a greyhound that’s spotted a hare, but most importantly, it’s interesting, it’s different and you never know where it’s going to go. Listen to it from start to finish and you’ll have as much fun as I did.