IT’S been three-years since alternative outfit Happyness became our favourite dejected youngsters with 2014’s ‘Weird Little Sister’, and now as the Londoners return with ‘In Write’ the adolescent euphoria has become mature beauty.
Whereas previously Happyness were about dysfunctional lyrics and sobering melodies, the space now filled by the trio represents something closer to the outcome of a cheerless experiment between Elliot Smith and Brian Wilson.
Opening with ‘Falling Down’ the sun-crushed beauty of an American highway is alluded to through waves of low-fi muffles and brittle guitars. It feels as if the Beach Boys had come to life in 2017. And it’s that 60s infused song writing that really makes ‘In Write’ so twistedly perfect. ‘The Reel Starts Again [Man as Ostrich]’ places emphasis on eloquent passages of emotive words, where once was provocative lyrics. ‘Through Winds’ is the album’s most infectious pop nugget, with its slowly hypnotic call and response vocals that rise above waves of harsh synths.
An ever-present throughout every release from Happyness is a strong sense of musicianship. ‘Uptrend_Style Raids’ could easily have been a Television track. The cheeky guitar line that crosses the border between folk and prog helps the track erupt through a dreamlike chorus. ‘Bigger Glass Less Full’ chaotic, but hinted with the fierceness of a Van Morrison composition. It’s fuzzy and fucking electric.
The album carries the dream on. ‘The C Is A B A G’ is a wonderful track that builds into ‘Tunnel Vision Your Part’ – both nodding to tracks associated with Soft Hearted Scientists.
This is a coming of age release that detaches itself deftly from what was once perceived of Happyness. Here they have become giants, where once they were shy lads. They have found their voice – it’s just not as deranged as we’ve become accustomed too.