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Happyness - Servant Jazz Quarters, London 17/06/14

18 June 2014, 12:00 | Written by The Line of Best Fit

“You’re all missing a documentary about how dolphins have sex tonight, so it’s a really special thing that you’ve come.” Singer-guitarist Benji Compston greets a crowded room with Happyness’ characteristic mock sincerity. Idiosyncratic is not a word usually associated with lo-fi college rock, but with their lush gauzy slow jams, fuzzy grunge-tinted guitar and knowingly ludicrous lyrics, Happyness scrawled all over the 90s indie textbook last night, and snapped a couple of guitar strings for good measure.

The band open the gig with the bewildering promise of “We’re going to do a Christmas song”, before launching into “Baby Jesus (Jelly Boy)”, a down-tempo track of guitar and reverb-affected vocals telling the woes of sharing a birthday with one third of The Holy Trinity. The set-list is varied, subdued songs such as “Naked Patients” (“This is a song about being involuntarily naked”) contrasting with the short, thrashing “Refrigerate Her”, “a song about keeping people in domestic appliances”.

Alongside eight songs from their debut record (“a collection of our musical residue”, as Compton advertises it), Happyness play three other tracks. When a string snaps on Compston’s guitar, and Allan looks behind him at his own now five-stringed instrument, commenting, “Well I’ve already broken mine”, the band, laid back as ever, play a live debut of the fantastic “When You Wake Up In The Bath And You’re Shitfaced” as “the only track that doesn’t have much guitar” whilst Compston tunes up lucky guitar number three.

We also hear “A Whole New Shape”, a heavier, charging number that looks set to be the band’s next release. “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere”, a track previously released on the band’s eponymous debut EP and chronicling bassist Jonny Allen’s teenage obsession with Arcade Fire and “wanting to cut off Win Butler’s hair and wear it as a hat”, brings the set to an end with fitting satire.

Last night, the band thanked the audience for “humouring” them. Yet while young in age, with their clever, whimsical lyrics and slouching guitar, these London boys are already bounding, shirts untucked and shoelaces untied, way ahead of their classmates.


Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)
Naked Patients
It’s On You
Leave The Party
Anything I Do Is All Right
Weird Little Birthday Girl
Refrigerate Her
When You Wake Up In The Bath And You’re Shitfaced
Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same
A Whole New Shape
Montreal Rock Band Somewhere

  • Review by Amy Rose O’Hanlon
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