“Pull out the pins on me, babe/I’m a 21st century hand grenade,” sigh Happyness on ‘Pumpkin Noir’, the Eels-ishly gauzy slow jam at the dark heart of their debut album. True to that metaphor, with ‘Weird Little Birthday’, it feels only a matter of time till this South London trio explode. Formed late last year in Bermondsey but cribbing from North American college rock, their clever, literate slacker-rock mixes breezy guitar jangles and breathy lo-fi vocals a la Broken Social Scene or Wilco or Weezer with strange, thinly murderous lyrics packed with droll, deadpan British laughs.
In their Radar Band of the Week interview in this week’s NME, they cite the stormy narrative turns of American author Cormac McCarthy as a major influence, but to me there’s more of a Kurt Vonnegutishness to the absurd, nonchalant, thinly murderous twists their tales of sex and sickness in the suburbs take: ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’, for example, sees the band imagine scalping members of Arcade Fire (“I’m wearing Win Butler’s hair”) over gentle chimes, while ‘Naked Patients’ laughs in the face of death in a hospital bed: “There’s something so funny about a sick body and the things that it does that it shouldn’t do.” ‘It’s On You’, meanwhile, might just be 2014’s irresistably sunny anthem to date: an ode to adolescence and all the stupid, lust-driven boasts, brags, mistakes and regrets those hideously awkward years entail.
‘Weird Little Birthday’ is out next Monday (June 16) but we’ve got the whole record to stream below. Let us know what you think, and catch them on tour next week, starting at London Servants Jazz Quarters on June 17 before heading to Sunderland, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds.