(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #294: Let’s Buy Happiness

By on Thursday, 13th February 2014 at 1:00 pm

Despite their swift and tightly-scripted rise to attention in 2010, Newcastle alt-rock quintet Let’s Buy Happiness have yet to release their much anticipated debut album, ‘Chants for Friends’, which was expected to be out at the end of 2013. The band did a headline tour through the UK in October of last year, and the album’s first single ‘Run’ was released on the 4th of November last year, but after a smattering of shows to end the year, Let’s Buy Happiness seem to have gone quiet, at least for the moment.

This isn’t the first silent spell in the history of Let’s Buy Happiness. After self-releasing its first EP ‘No Hot Ashes’ in 2009, the band have been only intermittently active, releasing a smattering of singles beginning with ‘Six Wolves’ in October 2010, followed by ‘Fast Fast’ in February 2011 and ‘Dirty Lakes’ in September of that year, both on their own Ghost Arc Records label. They returned to the studio in 2012 to work on their full-length album, but have since released only two singles, ‘Works Better on Paper’ in June 2012 and the aforementioned ‘Run’.

It appears that taking some time to mull things over might have been a good move for Let’s Buy Happiness. ‘Run’ is a departure from the band’s earlier introverted sound, still haunting and melancholic, but more dynamic, more expansive and certainly more immediate. Sarah Hall’s light, ghostly voice floats over wailing guitars and synth strings, and her delivery withers away at the end of a line in a way that reminds me a little bit of Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders.


The band’s Soundcloud page reveals several remixes of ‘Run’, including a remarkable psych-electro version by fellow Northerners Hey Sholay that turns the distant melancholy of Hall’s ethereal vocals to a visceral, piercing chill.

Let’s Buy Happiness is scheduled to showcase at SXSW 2014 next month in Austin. The festival appearance might give the band a chance to reignite its longtime fan base and to gain new American fans as well. In the meantime, we can hope that ‘Chants for Friends’ is still on the books for release later this year.

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