Bouncing out into the spotlight with the organically vibrant Bar Hoppin, this album from Happy Curmudgeons offers audiences a collection of colourful, live-sounding performances, with an array of songwriting fit to really get you feeling uplifted and energized. Soulsville follows the opener, the quickly familiar sound of the band pours through – these simple yet effective bass-lines, the space and joyfulness, the brightness. A touch of saxophone really adds to the final glow on this one.
As the collection progresses, the musicianship really starts to shine. Taking on a dash of the Beach Boys, a flicker of Jack Johnson, and a fair helping of something a little more emotionally folk-like, the band emerge as dedicated songwriters and passionate musicians above anything else. Meant 2 Be showcases a different side to their creativity early on, the delicacy and the two alternating voices create a wonderful dynamic – a family friendly, all-inclusive song to warm your soul.
Elsewhere on the project, expect gorgeous acoustic guitar work, beautiful melodies, and a multitude of poetic images and ideas. 3rd Coast is yet another that sets the scene right before you, making you feel as if you’re there, beach-side, by the open fire. The singing feels very genuine, suggesting a sense of togetherness. The hook melody is stunning, a total highlight and easy to revisit again and again. Carnal Boogie comes afterwards and cranks things up a few notches. Distortion and weight come through, heavy rhythm and blues, an indie-rock edge with a deeply personal presentation of short, concise lines that quickly sink in.
Burn Sugar Burn introduces another rhythmic and high-energy piece that showcases the indie-rock or classic, vintage rock edge of the band’s approach to performance. The hook is surprisingly smooth and immediately enjoyable in an anthemic sort of way. You can feel the raw energy, you can tell that a live show would be an absolute joy to experience. Idle Time settles things down to the raw essentials again. Purity comes through, acoustic guitar, a gentle leading voice, the now familiar flicker of electric guitar lingering in the backdrop. The beat grows thicker and a sense of drama walks hand-in-hand with the adoration and poetic thoughtfulness of the lyrics.
That personal touch is something worth looking out for. These songs are easy to get lost among or swept away by, simply because of the warmth and rhythm of the music. When you listen intently though, there’s something deeply human about it all – something very real for you to connect with. You Gotta Move On is the perfect example. The more you listen, the more each line takes new meaning to those who hear it, and despite the underlying depth or story-line that created it, the experience is likely to mean something unique and different to everyone who embarks upon it. That’s the beauty of well-crafted songwriting.
Butterfly brings back the electronic edge, distorted guitar riffs and a mildly chaotic, addictive drum-line accompany an effected leading voice that leans again in that classic rock and roll direction. Seasons follows and is another personal highlight. This song sneaks in during the final quarter, set to recapture your affection should your mind have wandered a little – and it does so with simple beauty. The lines captivate, the softness of the music compliments the concept, and the leading voice seems so authentically gentle and loaded with relevant emotion.
Scatter Brain marks the end of the project with another compelling bit of songwriting and performance. It’s a huge way to finish and summarizes everything you’ve grown to love about the band’s take on musical expression. The instrumental journey that unfolds is bright and multi-layered, still organic, and alongside of this, the melody has that minimalist touch once again – the music and the words spiral around you in a hypnotic manner. It’s a subtle but mesmerising effect and a beautiful way to bring things to a close. For those who stumble upon the chance, a live show would be a must. This album is an easy yes for the long term playlist.