A lot has been made of the strange lyrics that litter Happyness’ debut album. Released on the back of the growing spool of hype twisting itself around the three piece’s debut Ep, ‘Weird Little Birthday’, is a feast of unusual lyrical flourishes, in-jokes and throwaway lines. Its also, and this is something its probably best to get in before the metaphors get too dense and choke out any semblance of coherence in our half-arsed review, the best debut from a British band this year. Or perhaps just the most interesting. Picking as their points of reference the cotton-mouthed college rock of Pavement and the twisted-slacker stylings of Sparklehorse Happyness have produced an album that’s light enough for casual listening with an almost endless pool of clever little one-liners and hidden meanings to give it gravity.
The width of this field of reference makes it a record ripe for strange readings. Having been given a preview copy a few months back, we’ve had time to really fester in our obsession, something that has lead to the forming of a little pocket conspiracy concerning the album’s track listing, or more specifically the idea that every-third song on the album’s track-listing references, chronologically, a US president. ‘Baby Jesus (Jelly Boy)’ being a nod to JFK’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech, ‘Orange Luz’ to Lyndon Johnson’s introduction of Agent Orange in Vietnam, ‘Anything I do Is Alright’ a *wink wink* reworking of Nixon’s famous quote on the Watergate scandal and so on. Its an album, in other words, that invites obsession.
It is perhaps safe to say therefore that what really clicks on Happyness’ debut isn’t the music, which is very good all the same, but the jagged little quirks and wacko lyrics which, slowly but surely, absorb you into a world that’s as much of your making as it is of Happyness’.