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The Wytches return with an awkwardly flickering, deliberately difficult second album

"All Your Happy Life"

Release date: 30 September 2016
The Wytches All Your Happy Life 2
21 September 2016, 11:59 Written by Ryan Lunn
In June, Brighton-based bruisers The Wytches released Home Recordings, a scrappy seven-track EP that felt like a way of creating buzz around a forthcoming new album. Surprisingly, All Your Happy Life - the band’s follow-up to 2014’s polished debut album Annabel Dream Reader – sounds just as lo-fi as their stop-gap collection of bedroom demos.

The band, who have recently expanded to a fully-fledged four-piece following the addition of keyboardist and guitarist Mark Breed, have all but completely stripped themselves of the dark melodic nature that defined their debut album - Annabel Dream Reader was a frantic hodge-podge of heartbreak and occasional optimism, whereas ...Happy Life is consistently glum, making it a much more coherent and, therefore, convincing listen.

“A Feeling We Get”, “A Dead Night Again” and “Home” immediately stand out as the album’s three best tracks and also come as their closest acknowledgments of melody, sounding like The Birthday Party trying to waterboard 60’s surf rock. It’s also interesting to note the development of Kristian Bell’s vocals since their debut album and how his distinctive, helpless growl has been replaced by an exhausted-sounding semi-spoken rasp. Bell's change in vocals can even act as the best way of distinguishing the difference between the two albums - he was aggressively erratic on their debut album but on ...Happy Life he's elegantly agitated.

All Your Happy Life is a certainly difficult second album, but, crucially, it’s deliberately difficult. “Ghost House” and “Crest of Death” showcase just how isolated and deflated The Wytches’ sound has become, as they crawl further and further into the shadows. They never really embrace as much lyrical darkness as they did on their debut album, though, and they don’t exactly reach for the occasional glimpse of light either. As a result, All Your Happy Life is a lightswitch that keeps awkwardly flickering, intentionally making the mise-en-scène as unsettling as possible.

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