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EP Review: Happyness – Happyness

Oh, how misleading first impressions can be. From the moment a series of discordant coos and loosely chugging guitars ring out over ‘It’s On You’, the first cut from London trio Happyness’ self-titled debut EP, it’s clear to see what kind of ride the three-piece are going to take you on. Giddy yet brainy college rock is the order of the day, it appears. Bringing to mind the comically verbose nature of latter years Pixies (think ‘U-Mass’) with the informed drawl of Pavement at their establishment-baiting best, it’s hardly going to challenge your perceptions of indie rock in the 21st century but it’ll certainly soundtrack a few misspent summer evenings perfectly.

‘Orange Luz’, meanwhile, carries on the ‘90s revival but pursues a different tangent, shoehorning itself in between those brilliant early Weezer records, Yo La Tengo’s masterful I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One and the ‘earnest boy with heart-on-sleeve’ portion of your LP collection – we’re talking Jets to Brazil, The Promise Ring, Vermont. Perfect listening for sweater weather then, it’s all small town romantic sentiments and loft-recorded drums and guitars. ‘Lascascadas’ – presumably named for the region in Mexico – continues in much a similar vein although, unsurprisingly perhaps, it strikes up an altogether more drifting, wayward feel – bringing to mind the meandering, open highways, canyons and deserts of North America’s barren south-west.

Coming to a head with the rather brilliantly titled ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’, it’s clear to see just how widely Happyness have veered from the ‘Cut Your Hair’-isms of ‘It’s On You’. It’s a blissful, expansive slow-burner whose gently lilting guitars and softly spun vocal yarns recall Low, Mazzy Star or John Vanderslice in their wide-eyed musical dreaming. Sure, as with much of the EP, the reference points are clear to behold, but the threesome manage to put just enough of a stamp of identity on proceedings to make them their own. A continued push to truly find their own voice could yield something very special indeed. For now though, don’t go throwing out that box of Ira Kaplan effect pedals; these guys aren’t quite there yet.

- Alex Cull

Happyness’ self-titled EP is available now on Weird Smiling.

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