You might be wondering how London three-piece Happyness could top 2014’s Weird Little Birthday. Not only is it something of a hard act to follow – gaining rave reviews, awards and a tour support slot with the mighty Mac Demarco – but its very success poses something of a problem for the band’s signature sound.
The question is: is it possible to sustain their particular brand of awkward, off-beat slacker rock in the wake of such critical success? Write In definitely ushers in the beginning of something new for Happyness, marked by weightier arrangements and a new accessibility. Lyrically, it eschews the irony and obscurity of the lyrics throughout Weird Little Birthday and swapstheir moody, shoegazey sensibility for something subtly more optimistic.
While it feels somewhat more grown up, the trio have retained much of their spontaneous charm with this new release. Perhaps this is because their music-making process has stayed much the same, with the self-produced Write In being recorded in the same space and on the same equipment as earlier material.
They're still open to taking risks, with opening track Falling Down being testament to this: its two-minute intro was originally written to close the track, and the band’s willingness to switch this up demonstrates their chance-embracing process. This beautifully textured piece of indie rock sets the tone for the rest of the album – a consistent and continuous collection of ten songs which flows seamlessly from track to track, even as it modulates slightly in style.
While comparisons to big names like Yo La Tengo and Pavement abound, Happyness’s unique appeal has always come from an understated ingenuity and irreverence. With this slice of US college rock, tinged with British humour, the band prove that they can maintain this essential quality of their sound, even as they mature.
Listen to: Falling Down, Victor Lazarro's Heart
Buy Happyness - Write In on LP/CD from Norman Records