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In 2014, Happyness gained a bit of notoriety when playing CMJ’s annual music festival in New York. A relatively unknown group heading into it, they received praise from NPR as one of the 10 best discoveries of the weekend. The London-based rock trio has since toured the world and allowed many more live audiences to experience their lethargic take on college indie rock.
It seems almost problematic for the band to call themselves Happyness — a sort of a grotesque, tongue-in-cheek departure from their art. The name, after digging into the group, serves as a listless reminder of a time that was, and not a time that’s now. But don’t let that fool you; the music is fun and playful. One particular line from “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere” stands out. They sing: “I’m wearing Win Butler’s hair / There’s a scalpless singer of a Montreal rock band somewhere / And he’s alright.” The lyric itself sounds a bit gory, but it’s the delivery that sets it apart. The voice isn’t angry or malicious; it’s melancholic.
What we have with Happyness is a dichotomy between past and present. It’s as though the closer they get to their idea of happiness, the more they learn that it doesn’t really matter; they’re fine with mere contentedness. That’s not to say they’re sad. They just sort of wade along as their lives happen around them. They have rock songs, and they have a lot of energy about them, but their underlying theme points in the direction of a post-ironic interpretation of their name.
Happyness plays Mississippi Studios on May 31. Tickets here.