'Weird Little Birthday' is the self produced follow up to the critically acclaimed eponymous debut EP released earlier this year from South London trio Happyness. Drawing of the influence of college rock bands such as Sparklehorse, Pavement, MGMT and Yo La Tengo, ‘Wierd Little Birthday’ is a record which plays on the difficult balance between naive enthusiasm and introspective melancholy.
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Happyness (sic) have created an indie throwback sandwich here, crafting a record of referential indie rock as contained in a sprawl as maddening as Pavement’s ‘Wowee Zowee’. On these seventeen tracks, they run the spectrum, from the gentle distortion of Yo La Tengo, the soft alien harmonies of Broken Social Scene, the atomic jangle pop of Guided By Voices and the wit of Stephen Malkmus -- specifically when he took the piss out of his alt rock elders on the final verse of “Range Life”. Happyness’ equivalent of that moment is the Arcade Fire rip “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere”, a hilarious tune that accuses Win Butler of having hair. Go get ‘em, Happyness.
Some sprawls are tedious; this one is replenishing. ‘Weird Little Birthday’ is crammed with melodies and presents them in every which way, as if showing you holiday snaps from a better time. Much like Alex G’s resurgent lo-fi, these tunes are downplayed and will have different ways of grabbing attention. “Pumpkin Noir” uses delicate riffs and piano reminiscent of Wilco on ‘Sky Blue Sky’, positioning the quiet precision of early indie rock on a distinct landscape of Americana; the very next track is as squelchy and amped up as ‘Foolish’-era Superchunk, chords clamouring and falling apart around more of the same vocal coos. It's a worthy reminder of that boring fact we’re all sick of acknowledging: indie rock doesn’t really mean anything.
Every ‘90s band had their own little microcosm, and Happyness seem to be experts at impersonating all of them. Bless this mess.
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