With songs about scalping members of Arcade Fire, birthday cake faces with candle cigarettes, and sets that border on a type of awkward, niche stand-up comedy, it’s been hard to tell if Happyness have been taking this music thing seriously over the last few years. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons their 2015 debut album was so criminally underrated. It’s probably also one of the reasons I loved them so much at sun-soaked Knee Deep festival back in 2014.
This year has seen the return of a new Happyness. Don't get me wrong, they’re still plugging their guitars into cakes in their spare time, but there is a maturity to how they’re going about their business. New album Write In seems more refined and focused on the Sparklehorse-inspired brand of indie we’ve come to know and love. Singers Johnny Allen and Benji Compston continue to write intriguing and often comedic lyrics despite the fact that, as far as I can tell, the band don’t mention refrigerating people once in the entire album. Whether or not that’s a good thing I’ll leave up to you.
The hopping piano of ‘Through Windows’ is a highlight, reflecting back to fantastic early tracks like ‘Pumpkin Noir’ and ‘Lofts’. However, it seems to be a little more full-bodied, aged like a fine wine. Meanwhile, ‘Anna, Lisa Calls’ is pure guitar-driven indie that sits the band firmly amongst peers Hooton Tennis Club and Ultimate Painting.
Despite the minor hiccup of being stranded in the Alps with a broken down van, the band’s recent European tour seemed a very professional and well-oiled machine. Add that to an imminent US tour and the recognition they’ve deserved for quite some time and Happyness are looking like a force to be reckoned with. They might have matured a little with time but I'm not sure time could ever tame a band as eccentrically brilliant as this, and the professional attitude implies they won’t be going away any time soon.