Happyness – Weird Little Birthday (Album Review)

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Following up from their critically acclaimed self-titled EP, London indie three piece, Happyness, are gearing up to the release of their debut album this month. Entitled ‘Weird Little Birthday’, the album is about a boy who shares his birthday with Jesus, and is eventually driven insane with jealousy.

Due for release on June 16th, ‘Weird Little Birthday’ is self-produced and largely recorded in the band’s own Jelly Boy Studios. Opening track, ‘Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)’ was briefly recorded in an abandoned church, but the session was cut short by “the bitter cold and an unconvinced congregation of the dead.” Having been dubbed ‘college slacker rock’, you would think they’d have found an instant fan-base in their horizontal audience. Still, there’s no accounting for taste.

This is after-party music, winding-down music, offering up that we’re-not-even-trying illusion of ease. But the quality of their music shows how hard they’re working, it probably just doesn’t feel like real work to them. Browsing through their Facebook albums and the very fact that their official homepage is their Tumblr blog, packed with random photos and videos, shows that these guys are a lot more than arm’s length away from the manufactured music scene. They’re indie through and through, right down to understanding that people will either like them or they won’t, and that slick marketing isn’t what will sell their records, them being them will do it.

Laid back and relaxed, the band’s bizarre mix of surf-indie-grunge-rock-ballads is an easy listen and will no doubt be a festival pleaser. It’s the kind of music you want to share with friends. It has a lot of the Eels about it, keeping one foot very firmly routed in the sound of the late 90s, early 2000s indie scene.

Kicking off with ‘Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)’, we jump straight into the narrative aspect of the album, with an almost conversational, storytelling track. It continues with ‘Naked Patients’, slightly discordant and experimental, and they further the disparity with the synthpop accents of ‘Refrigerate Her’, and the almost entirely instrumental ‘Weird Little Birthday Girl’.

The album has an overriding melancholy dreamy feel, peppered with upbeat tracks such as ‘Anything I do is Alright’ and ‘It’s On You’, which lead with a much more indie-grunge feel. All the tracks are multi-layered, and intricately pieced together with an eye for detail, while still retaining an acoustic facade.

‘Lofts’ is a beautiful song, and my clear favourite. It digs right down into the heart, fading to almost a whisper before we’re thrown into a short burst of pure classic indie in closing track ‘Monkey in the City’. Bravely diverse, unashamedly unique, ‘Weird Little Birthday’ will be a grower for some, but for many it’s going to hit like a bullet into their favourite albums list.