Hopes have been raised pretty high for South London trio, Happyness, following the release of their self titled EP which dropped in January. Garnering attention on both sides of the Atlantic, they’ve been lauded as the teenage slacker-rock band that had the potential to cut through the lo-fi masses.
Their debut, ‘Weird Little Birthday’, comes out in June and is labelled as a not-quite concept album about a boy who shares his birthday with Jesus Christ and eventually is driven insane with jealousy. Although the record does showcase more of the naïve-yet-intelligent charm characteristic of their EP, some of the excitement is lost and the innovation not quite as convincing when padded out to make a full length record.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some gems to be found here. ‘Naked Patients’ gets off to a promising start with lazy vocals, dreamy harmonies, and a satisfyingly discordant guitar solo. ‘Anything I do is Alright’ is another highlight, and helps to shake up the album a bit, not just with its punkier guitars, but there’s a hint of Supergrass lurking in here and it’s nice to hear some more British influences rather than just being a straight Pavement replica, which perhaps a few of the other tracks are guilty of.
The latter half of the record seems to lack conviction, and the nine minute long ‘Weird Little Birthday Girl’ begins to feel a bit like filler; disappointing when some of the more exciting tracks don’t even reach two minutes long.
It’s apparent that a lot of love has gone into the production of the record – being largely recorded in the band’s own Jelly Boy Studios, and the DIY feel seems nice and authentic, with mastering from Adam Lasus (Yo La Tengo, Daniel Johnston) helping to elevate the sound to something beyond a self-recorded album.
Overall the album is pleasantly reminiscent of early ’90s shoe gaze, with hints that this is a band that can offer something more than a mere throw-back revival. However, it may take a couple more releases before we can really see what they’re made of.
Weird Little Birthday is released June 16th on Weird Smiling.