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- Oh Happiness by The Young Knives
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The Young Knives have been on a journey since they first reached the public consciousness as a spiky indie band, experimenting with slicker, synthpoppy styles and now moving into a new phase of pop experimentation with this ‘Oh Happiness’ EP containing four songs of uncompromising synth-based pop with the guitars taking a back seat and providing cheeky details while repetitive minimal synths provide the bulk and momentum.
Opener ‘Reproduction’ is a slow-burning introduction piece with the band taking their time playing around with some hypnotic repetitive loops, particularly neat when they throw in some of their trademark spiky guitar and I get flashes of the Dirtbombs’ ‘Party Store’ tribute to Detroit techno, but with a healthy dose of Kraftwerk. Then there’s ‘Maureen’ which is the “single” of the EP as far as I can tell. It’s got a classic pop sound which harks back to the likes of Roxy Music and the Talking Heads, with a coolly understated rhythm section underpinning a catchy but coldly delivered chorus.
Overleaf, ‘Oh Happiness’ opens with some tumbledown experimental noise and snotty vocals which burst into a big slacker chorus with a really weird watery chiming guitar tone that somehow sounds like they’ve been listening to both The Cure and Fela Kuti, joined towards the end by some crunchy Hammond organ. Great mix of ‘orrible noise and pure pop on this one. Finally ‘Signs of Weakness’ pairs an epic and heartstring-tugging chord sequence on the synth alongside a stumbling looped rhythm and the repeated proclamation “My god, pull yourself together, never show any signs of weakness”. It’s like Fuck Buttons gone Pet Shop Boys, and towards the end the rhythmic loop segues into some heavy grooving live drums and I’ve gotta admit this is pretty euphoric. They’re not the band they used to be, but Young Knives are none the worse for that as they surge forward into new and unusual pop avenues.
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