Happyness return with a second album of fresh-faced alternative rock, titled Write In. They still recall the high years of the US college rock scene, with just the right amount of slacker-swagger to make them charming. That, plus an increasingly bold and melodic songwriting sensibility, makes Write In a winner. LP and CD editions on Moshi Moshi.
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This is the perfect time for Happyness: not quite the second you’ve woken up, but the very moment you’ve surrendered to the long day ahead, allowing it to begin. Having taken up the chill mantle of mixtape-making era Yo La Tengo and countless effervescent slacker bands, these guys know a thing or two about relaxing those things that agitate you the most. They’ll give you the feelings and then let you sit on them.
It’s a little bit of a surprise that their new record sees them doing the economical ten tune album, given that their debut, ‘Weird Little Birthday’, lasted a mini-eternity. It’s to the good, though: ‘Write In’ feels concentrated on each moment, building surprisingly melodically diverse tunes that can switch between sleepy guitar lines and violin swells, metal riffs and country twang. Listening on headphones focuses attention towards those moments you might not expect Happyness to pull off -- whereas you sorta just wanted them to meditate on a motif on ‘Weird Little Birthday’, this record feels highly additive, constantly introducing new hooks into what you assume are settled songs.
To me, Happyness sorta always feel like what you’d get if you used the answers to a focus group on what you want to hear from indie rock. They do the hallmarks so well and so sublimely, matching their love of shoegaze (“Anytime”) with a folk ballad proficiency (“Through Windows”, which sounds like a broken version of “Imagine”) and that kinda soft noise ruckus that Pavement maybe invented (“Bigger Glass Less Full”). If I wasn’t impressed by ‘Write In’ on the first listen, I’m fully lulled by it on the second, wishing I could be in bed, glorious bed, listening to it.
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