Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Track By Track: Happyness on Weird Little Birthday

16 June 2014, 12:30

​We’ve been pretty enamoured by the debut album from Bermondsey-based Happyness of late - its warm, fuzzy haze hiding a wonderfully wonky heart. There’s plenty to be recognised in their college-rock template - but a ton to be applauded in its broad blend of dynamics, literary witticisms & ever so moderate sense of darkness.

And that’s even before beginning to traverse it’s thematic content. A deep seated jealousy of having to share a birthday with Jesus? Stealing and wearing Win Butler’s hair? Keeping your girlfriend in a fridge? Triple check. Read on for a view into the wonderful, weird world of Happyness.

“Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)”

We had an idea for a movie about a guy from a religious family who had the same birthday as Jesus Christ and at some point was consumed with this kind of demented vengeful jealousy. It’s more of a personal thing for him - he’s resentful of this guy Jesus as opposed to Jesus Christ the religious figurehead. In the end this was the only song we recorded in the church – which I guess is weirdly significant.

“Naked Patients”

Written when I was sick one time and in hospital. There’s something really funny about hospitals sometimes and all the characters and the roles they play. There was this one cleaning lady that would always bring in photos of her cats to show me and sit there for hours telling me about their peculiar ways. She once burst into tears and I was left comforting her. That was a weird one. I misheard that Bright Eyes lyric “I fell asleep with you still talking to me” as “I fell asleep with your stomach talking to me”.

“Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same”

This was the last one we recorded. We had this old monophonic synth of Ed Harcourt’s and I guess we must have had some of those mellotron parts on “Summerteeth” in mind when we put it in. We’d watched all the Hannibal Lecter movies in the space of about 2 days. (We couldn’t record too loudly into the evenings so we’d often have time on our hands). I think we almost preferred the later ones with the kind of overwrought violent bits.

“Orange Luz”

This was under the working title “Happy Carrot” (after the health food shop from Sleeper) pretty much until the EP was released. The original opening line was “Celery, why are you trying to kill my father?” I guess it took a turn away from the allergy diatribe it could have been.

“Refrigerate Her”

Kind of a domestic “Where The Wild Roses Grow”. Started with a mis-singing of that “bubbliest of bubble baths” line in “Gravity Of The Situation” by Vic Chesnutt. The electrical noise was mainly incompetence.

“Pumpkin Noir”

Recorded on a kitchen piano live with the guitar. And featuring Benji’s late dog with “paws on a wooden floor”. Ed Harcourt recorded his vocals at his studio one afternoon into an old espionage microphone that looked like a gun from a bad sci-fi movie. Starts with a line from one of our favourite songs.

“Anything I Do Is All Right”

We used to go to a studio every Saturday night to play around with stuff under a railway arch in Bermondsey. The whole place would shake like crazy whenever a train went over. Also, a guy I knew when I was 8 put a poem he’d written on the Internet with the line “a sky that empties faster than it fills”.

“Weird Little Birthday Girl”

This is kind of the title track on the record. Once we wrote it I think we were always thinking about the other songs in relation to it. Recorded live at Jelly Boy. The intro started as a joke.

“It’s On You”

One of the first songs we wrote. The vocals in the verse were pretty much improvised and we ended up using the first take from a demo. It’s about realising that nobody really knows what the fuck they’re doing and being cool with that. Someone on some lyric website apparently heard the chorus lyric as “I’ve just want Jack Cop Train” which is funny.

“Regan’s Lost Weekend (Porno Queen)”

An eye view of The Exorcist.

“Leave The Party”

This went through about 5 different versions before we put the final one together. One of them’s pretty much the album version with Jilted John style vocals – I think we were sick of being indoors. I guess it’s a pretty simple song about wanting to make peace with someone.


Written after a horrific party full of people I hadn’t seen for while. The elevator to the apartment was padded with this black egg box looking foam and there was a cat lurking around the corridors and all I could think about all night was what that cat must’ve thought of us. Walking home I kept thinking of these “something in you” lines over and over again under my breath. The vocals after the loud guitar bit are from the first demo we ever did. The first song we wrote actually.

“Monkey In The City”

We spent a month in Paris writing songs for the record and we all got really sick in the little apartment we were sharing. We kept getting woken up by an opera singer in the building and someone had a dream one morning about babies hanging out of planes from umbilical cord winches.

Weird Little Birthday is out today on Genepool. The band tour the UK this week - with their first headline date tomorrow at London’s Servant Jazz Quarters.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next