(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Album Review: Happyness – Write In

By on Tuesday, 4th April 2017 at 12:00 pm

Happyness Write In album coverOne of the most overused cliches in music writing is the term ‘sophomore slump’. It’s pretty much a no go for any writer worth their salt, so when talking about a band’s second album you have to get creative, much like the band themselves. London’s Happyness are a band who are seemingly deep into the idea of not giving a fuck. Following 2014’s ‘Weird Little Birthday’, an album that was as deep as wandering the metaphorical streets in a daze was always going to be a hard task. There’s only so much slacker daze rock you can create without just ending up going in circles, which, unfortunately they pretty much do on this new album.

‘Write In’ opens with ‘Falling Down’, a track that makes you want a whole 2 minutes until you even hear singer Jonny Allan mutter a word. A bold move, but one that is repeated over and over, something that eventually grinds on you after four or five tracks. Sure, slacker rock is what it is, seemingly effortless yet tactile in its execution, but it always leaves you feeling unsatisfied. Track two, ‘The Reel Starts Again [Man Overboard]’, is perhaps the record’s most accomplished moment, which is a shame because that means the LP has peaked so early. Utilising piano, Southern style guitar slides and laid-back romantic vocals, it feels like the soundtrack to a montage scene in a rom-com. A very specific analogy, but one you can try out yourself at home with a muted film.

Writing the entire record off as a repetitive throwaway would be unjust. There are moments that moderately deviate from the spectrum such as ‘Through Windows’, which is a piano-led number with beautifully layered vocals. If you’re a follower of Happyness, you’ll recognise a couple of the tracks such as ‘Anna, Lisa Calls’ and ‘Tunnel Vision On Your Part’, both of which featured on the band’s previous EP. The latter track closes this full length and does so with a beauty that’s lost on the rest of the record. These are moments that do their best to stand out, but to close it out with an effortlessly beautiful track like this is tantamount to eating a gobstopper and finding the nice bit in the middle.

As a full length album, it has its moments, but ultimately this is quite a slog to listen too. Happyness could do with adding an extra element to their sound, be it a tempo faster than that of a resting heart rate or a break in the monotony of the vocals. It should also be said that some may find the throwback aspect of their sound moderately appealing. There’s a harkening back to the late Eighties and early Nineties with the production, which is a pleasing novelty. The elements are all there, but the band fail to really push them into any real solid development. Slacker rock can only go so far before it folds in on itself and becomes counter-productive.


Happyness’ second album ‘Write In’ is out this Friday, the 7th of April, on Moshi Moshi Records in the Uk and Bar/None in North America. They just appeared at SXSW 2017 in Austin. For more on Happyness on TGTF, go here.

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