May 7th 2015
The beauty of Happyness’ debut was within its idyllic craft of hesitant, melancholic acceptance. Drizzling, reflective guitars depicting the most obtrusive of sun-kissed comedowns; Benji’s deadened vocals wording out in his Elliot Smith overtone; the reluctant rhythms; truly the perfect antidote for any Sunday morning flashbacks. And within Manchester’s subterranean Soup Kitchen the insecurity rained. Their inaugural releases’ title track ‘Weird Little Sister’ – the trio looming, mesmerised in their relevant grooves with their eyes shut up – was full of tired, sensual solos and possibly the most restful auras replicated live. The precedent set.
Happyness’ are renowned for their playful, youthful lyrics; epitomised by their NME Award win earlier this year. ‘It’s On You’ – “you said you didn’t like the government of our school
You’re so cool, you’re just like Robin Hood” – was spirited with the impromptu blues attributes again at the crux of their sound. Benji’s vocals fornicated with Jonny’s; generating a collage of warmth against the stinging bite of distortion. “I’m the mother f*cking birthday boy don’t steal my thunder, I’m baby jesus,” warped within its musings through ‘Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)’s cooled allure but without doubt the most perfect depiction of the twisted identity of the Londoners was found through ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’. The piercing bass melody that is Peter Hook fashioned through its contagiousness – allowing the trembling passages of chords to body – allow the lines “I’m wearing Win Butler’s hair, there’s a scalpless singer in a Montreal rock band somewhere” to emerge. Outlandish, but brutally engaging.
For the expansive scores that regularly erupted throughout Happyness’ 50 minute showing, abrupt sound-bites smashed; conveying the group’s darker Pavement stylising. ‘Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same’ – massive hooks implode, biting with the ever-loose beats – and ‘Anything I Do Is All Right’ – packed with buckling patterns, it’s another track that entangles elements of the blueprint Happyness and their hardened edge – were soon frosted again with ‘Naked Piano’; piano used again to intensify the skeleton upon which the accepting murmurs of the trio are based upon.
Happyness are kings of vacillation. There is something so boyish that fluctuates at their core, it creates smiles as easily as it does desolation. Soup Kitchen’s showing was a true reawakening of ‘Weird Little Sister’ and their relaxed onstage persona’s only fuelled the Happyness fire. A band full of complications and perfections, tinged with the most crushing of grunge wistfulness.
Words by Clive K Hammond