ALBUM REVIEW: Happyness – ‘Write In’

After a busy 3 years of touring, Happyness return with a cheery, classically minded sequel to their exquisite debut. They haven’t been quiet by any means, dropping track after track in the wake of ‘Weird Little Birthday’, however, this marks the band’s first full LP-length collection of new songs since 2014.

There’s plenty of reason to be excited. The band’s output has only been improving over time since they dropped their critically acclaimed debut EP, and this new album marks the continued evolution of one of London’s most intriguing new acts.

Opening with the swirling, indulgent tones of ‘Falling Down’, the album immediately differentiates itself from its predecessor: it’s a very different animal. More laid back, more elongated, Happyness swoon and sigh through a rich jungle of emotional texture. There’s a more romantic twist to this new album, more leaning on love motifs than the bizarre literary sources the band tends to draw from.

Though the weirdness is toned down somewhat, the band continues to deliver on charm, and although some of the slower moments are some of the best, the punkier ones are also great. ‘Anytime’ initially feels like a bit of a curveball, but the album’s melding of low-fi shoegaze production and prog synths makes for an exciting listen. The trend of life-affirming songwriting continues throughout, especially on ‘Anna, Lisa Calls’ and the subdued, yet fascinating ‘Victor Lazzaro’s Heart’. Track by track, this album delivers spots of genuine brilliance, and keeps the mood in a captivating limbo between guttural sadness and ecstasy.

Much in the same way that ‘Weird Little Birthday’ employed a motif of, you guessed it, birthdays, ‘Write In’ seems to act as its own indie movie soundtrack. The band refer constantly to acting, film reels resetting, and even credits rolling forever on the final track (‘Tunnel Vision On Your Part’), a nice touch. It makes the album cohesive, and shows an attention to detail not often afforded to most albums at this level.

I only wish the album was feature-length. Despite a full 10-track runtime, ‘Write In’ feels short. Additionally, the mastering, in particular the amount of compression, sometimes leaves little space for the songs to breathe, squashing the dynamic range. This is the only real issue with the production, though everything sounds sweet, it at times feels it would benefit from increased richness and depth.

Furthermore, though this is less of an issue, the strength of the best tracks on this album make the weaker ones stand out. ‘The C is A B A G’ and ‘Uptrend_Style Raids’ are the only tracks on the album that seem to take too long to get going. They’re by no means bad tracks, but in the context of phenomenal work such as ‘Bigger Glass Less Full’ and ‘Through Windows’, they do feel a little lacking.

‘Through Windows’ in particular, steals the show. A sensationally heartwarming piano ballad, it beautifully weaves together the call and response vocals of Benji and Jonny. Like the bastard son of The Beatles and Pavement, this track unites the band’s American and British influences perfectly, yet still sounds very distinctly like Happyness. Tantalizingly flirtatious, the trickles of tremolo guitars throughout the track, coupled with the beaming delivery, make ‘Through Windows’ not only the best track on the album, but possible the best track the band have ever done; it has certainly become a new favourite of mine.

‘Write In’ certainly isn’t phoned in. A brilliant, self-assured follow up that delivers great songs, expressive moods, and enough quirky charm to populate an episode of The Mighty Boosh. It’s a great work from Happyness, and it joins a rich family of exciting material, of which anyone with any taste could only want more.

Happyness release their sophomore album ‘Write In’ on April 7th via Moshi Moshi Records.

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