Happyness – ‘Write In’ reviewed

❉ Happyness’ long awaited second album is inspired, melodic and unpredictable.

From the beginning of punk there’s always been a concept of DIY in music.  Since Spiral Scratch by Buzzcocks revolutionised music production by proving it possible to exist outside of the big companies and make your music your way its a music ideology which has been utilised by every kinds of genres – from early rap and dark wave, through the low-fi indie movement, and onto today with the proliferation of UK grime.  It’s good therefore to hear there’s still not only life in DIY rock music but that it can be well produced and full of differing ideas.

Write In, the second album from Happyness, was recorded in the band’s North London studio above an old bookshop proves the fruits of such labours can be pleasantly diverse and full of ideas.  Since their first album the band have been involved in a number of interesting live projects with the likes of Pere Ubu and a tribute to the much missed Sparklehorse.  They’ve clearly taken some of these experiences and added them into the slew of inspiration of this album’s creation.  Uptrend has some of the circular guitar sounds beloved by early Ubu but this isn’t a mere copy, it’s something the band have added to help grow their own sound.

The album is full of pleasant melodies with the band shrouding them in different sonic settings.  There’s a sense they’re trying on different clothes to see which of them fit.  They seem most comfortable, and consistent, on the slower songs such as Victor Lazzaro’s Heart and Through Windows.  Yet the sheer variety of their approach helps prevent the album falling into dull predictability.  Although Anytime and Bigger Glass, Less Full clearly show they’ve lost none of the their infatuations with melodic post-grunge, Happyness have, to their credit, decided to expand their sound and take a few risks.  Alive, awash with rolling guitars, is a highlight although its bouncy feel is undercut with a feeling of melancholy.  Whilst current single, Through Windows is gentle and drifting.  There’s clearly something very 70’s about its musical approach it sounds as much a part of 2017 with harmonies seemingly wishing for a better world in the sunshine they see outside.

It’s also good to know that in a world of playlists and the rise of the single download that someone is still considering sequencing as Tunnel Vision On Your Part simply could not have been anywhere else.  Its incantation “as the credits roll forever” gives way to some loose playing, first piano and then other instruments spooling out of kilter with the song gently reminding the listener dark undercurrents often lie beneath even the most sunny dispositions.  Nothing short of the perfect closer.

Write In is the sound of a band growing their sound, expanding ideas, yet still doing it their way.

Happyness – ‘Write In’ is released by Moshi Moshi Records on 7 April 2017. Order here on CD, vinyl or download.

Hype Machine have the album streaming in full here: http://hypem.com/premiere/happyness

Happyness tour the UK in April 2017, finishing up with their biggest London headline show to date at Tufnell Park Dome, London.

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