Happiness Ltd.

Studio Album by released in 2007
Happiness Ltd.'s tracklist:
Happiness Ltd.
Let Me In
5 Times Out of 100
Harmonicas & Tambourines
Outta Heart
My Best Fiend
Give Up?
Good Day to Die
So So Cold
Waiting for Nothing

Happiness Ltd. review

Always progress never stagnate

Canadian band Hot Hot Heat are not new comers in the world of indie music: seven years together, two independent albums, one major release - in a word, their background looks convincing enough to make a supposition that these guys know what they are doing. However, it is really hard to avoid using cliches about post-success album syndrome when speaking about their new record Happiness Ltd. The thing is that the band was progressing with every new album without any critical failures. They've tested their strengths on Scenes One On Through Thirteen in 2001, made a breakthrough in 2002 with Make Up The Breakdown, which is considered to be their strongest work so far, moved to major and released their most qualitative record Elevator in 2005. As far as you can see everything looks properly, one more step up the stairs and Hot Hot Heat will be ready to claim for the status of one of the leading Canadian indie bands. But the whole situation is complicated by that fact that their recent album received a pretty cold reception, at least there were not so many people who didn't mention good points of Make Up The Breakdown when discussing Elevator, though in reality the album sounded no worse. The intrigue is evident: public's opinion is shaky and it is simply necessary for the band to show themselves to advantage one more time.

New songs were composed on the road

Hot Hot Heat began writing new material for Happiness Ltd. in January 2005 on that very day they launched a globetrotting tour to support Elevator. According to front man Steve Bayes the band wanted to be engaged in songwriting on the road because it was a great chance for them to test out new songs live. Stylistically, it is hard to distinguish any big changes; Happiness Ltd. is realized in the same vein of gleeful indie pop that featured Hot Hot Heat's previous records. However, there is a slight experimental flavor here too – by all appearances a result of tour conditions and constantly changing cities and countries. Songs from Happiness Ltd. are pretty diverse in the sense of arrangements, sounds of different instruments, which actually bear no relation to rock music, sparkle here and there throughout the album and everything sounds easy-going and unobtrusive at that. Actually the band as such began joining guitar, bass and drums in a more interesting way. While you could simply content yourself with uncomplicated but attractive themes formerly, today there is an opportunity for attentive listening and figuring out different subtleties. Let Me In may serve as a good evidence of band's broadened horizons. As a matter of fact the entire song is based on one single riff but musicians managed to wrap it up in a huge, full-fledged composition. Harmonicas And Tambourines sounds great too, it looks simple at a first glance but in reality it is full of hidden surprises. 5 Times Out Of 100 also deserves special mentioning – this is a pretty original and unpredictable song.

Generic indie sound

The band applied serious efforts during record sessions and got a whole bunch of famous producers involved in the process, particularly these were Tim Palmer (U2, David Bowie, The Cure), Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) and Butch Walker (Avril Lavigne, Pink). But in the end it is hard to say if Happiness Ltd. turned out to be better than Elevator in the sense of the sound production. This is a matter of taste. If you like clean sound than most likely you'll be disappointed with it, the new album sounds to garage-like in comparison with Elevator. But if you are a follower of classic indie sound than you won't have complaints at all, Hot Hot Heat laid a special emphasis exactly on this aspect. In fact, the album as a whole sounds very typical for indie rock: production, singing manner, the core of the songs itself – everything simply chains this record to the genre. Therefore the album is worth estimating from the point of its position among other indie releases. The album's main advantage lies in that fact that it is a very peculiar mixture of orthodox indie rock and mainstream, a sort of conductor between wide audience and deep underground. The material sounds very lively, accessible and radio friendly but still it always stays in the boarders of the genre. Happiness Ltd. is a strong record indeed and most likely Hot Hot Heat will be included in the lists of best indie bands owing to it.

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