Words by Holly Warren. @hollylikesmusic
If you were expecting this south London trio to immediately tear through the calm of the Boston Music Room in the wackiest way, their soft and slow opener, 'Weird Little Birthday', would have seemed like an odd choice. But, by the end of the show, you'd have got to know Happyness and you'd get that's kind of the idea. During the slower songs such as this, the band almost became musical hypnotists, and the people they most visibly put under were themselves. Among gently brushed drums and mellow guitar, sentiments whispered into the mic came out heavily reverbed. The vocals sounded like sleep-talk as the trio swayed gently, eyes closed, the singer sometimes mouthing secret silent verses to himself away from the mic. The nine-minute song lulled the room into a trance, then, like a snap of the fingers, the band dropped to the floor in a flash, and with a surge of guitar, rocked us out of it.
The laidback cool pop drawl of new single 'It's On You' [listen below] was one of the highlights of the set, for the sheer happiness it emanated. It began, "Remember when we broke into the park/ You got laid and I watched and you said that was fun?" and even though that specific scenario probably isn't one of your fond teenage memories, the lyrics and the summery Nineties guitar still engendered a nostalgic feeling. Everything about the band was endearingly lo-fi, even down to the way they introduced themselves to the audience – "Me, him and him are called Happyness" – and their audience banter was yet more proof that Happyness are just three silly dudes who'd be a right laugh to hit the pub with. They told the audience that the Lou Reed-style piano ballad 'Pumpkin Noir' was about a partridge that lives in the laundrette round the corner, or was it the guy who feeds it living in the laundrette? Anyway, it was to teach the kids that there are other birds than pigeons, or something like that, and it doesn't matter anyway because it's 100% nonsense. "It's not funny, we're a very serious band", retorted Happyness, just before singing "You ate my birthday cake/ You're Jesus and you don't know it".
With all the dirty guitar, extra fuzz and added feedback, all to scuff it up a little more, you couldn't always make out the words, but Happyness are throwing out some of the wittiest and most inventive lyrics of any band right now, with zero pretention and zero convention. Two odd themes kept popping up in the songs and we can't help but suspect that someone in the group is harbouring a deep-seated jealousy of having to share a birthday with Jesus. 'Montreal Rock Band Somewhere' [listen below] contains the ingeniously ridiculous line, "I'm wearing Win Butler's hair/There's a scalpless singer of a Montreal rock band somewhere", which was, of course, sung in the most melancholy fashion. But it wasn't purely for jokes, the intro had a really moving guitar melody and the whole performance of the song was captivating. A seriously good show by a band who don't take themselves seriously.
Happyness' new double-A sided single, 'It's On You'/'Montreal Rock Band Somewhere' is out on June 15