Album Review

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

by Happy Birthday


Sub Pop
6.5 / 10
19th May 2010

Reviewed by Courtney Sanders


It’s interesting when a ‘scene’ is created by the media to represent a sound that according to said media arose from one geographical location. In reality the bands are sporadically placed, seldomly know each other bar a couple of artist pals and have only heard of their sonic kin by the media whom created the scene which doesn’t exist. It’s a total contradiction, and in no way equates the disparate bands creating relatively similar sounding music today to the types of geographically close-knit creative hubs they are citing (and seeing it’s NZ Music Month, did anyone say Dunedin?). It does however, make a reviewer’s job easy (and arguably suggests a reasoning for said media’s actions) – bands are very easily related, both amongst their contemporary counterparts and in historical context.

Happy Birthday are unequivocally part of one of these non-existing scene scenes. And they deservedly have their place amongst the lo-fi 1960’s throwback pioneers making their way onto Sub Pop and Rough Trade rosters everywhere (A.K.A ‘The West Coast’). And like a large proportion of the artists that come after a scene is initially pinpointed, Happy Birthday sound similar to artists of yore and artists within, um, ‘chill wave’? Chill wave by brats perhaps. Chill wave with long hair maybe better?

While not revolutionary there are dip-dyed moments of relatively quirky pop poetry. They have an eloquent way of constructing nostalgically naïve lyrics that should be cringe-worthy-as but are instead endearingly cute, exemplified in their single ‘Girls FM’, while the dumbed-down veracity of just-over-two-minute track ‘Cracked’ breaks up the album nicely mid-way through and signifies a potential for a progression past the movement their amongst at the moment and into more interesting post-punk noise-core territory. Health anyone?

Unfortunately, like the event this bands moniker is based on, the excitement this album has incited may be short-lived if they can’t outdo themselves on a follow-up.




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