Weird Smiling (label)
16 June 2014 (released)
15 June 2014
Despite the band's name - there's not an awful lot of smiling going on on their debut album, which is apparently set around the idea of a boy who shares his birthday with Jesus Christ and who is eventually driven insane with
jealousy. Maybe it's just the thought of having to have all your presents on one day of the year that makes him crazy. Sarcasm aside, this is a brave first full set from Happyness, who know that bragging about a concept album is not something to attract critical acclaim in 2014.
Despite their London roots, Happyness paint pictures of the torment of their lead character with very American vistas There are elements of Wilco and Eels throughout but particularly on the haunting Pumpkin Noir, where guest singer Ed Harcourt declares he's a "21st century hand grenade" as he sings of spending all his money on his band and paying a woman to give him a hand.
The low-fi feel helps create an intense and brooding mood throughout, exemplified best on the likes of It's On You and the dominant bass of Naked Patients. The title track is more self-indulgent, running in at more than eight minutes. Happyness are better when tightening the reins, like on the terrific Orange Luz, with its keyboard waves and edgy guitar cleverly balanced.