Hilotrons Happymatic Review

Originally written in 2008

80’s, indie, synth pop and new wave comes to mind when listening to Happymatic. As the name suggests this album is a sugary pop affair. My first thought was a fun record that I would soon tire of. Yet they managed to surprise me, underneath its happy and infectious bubbly shell is a varied and interesting album waiting to be discovered.

Their opening track is almost a little too poppy and I wasn’t sure what to think of it. I continued to listen and thankfully the album gets better as you listen. Their second track reminds of the English Beat, especially their song March of the Swivelheads used in the final chase scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Dominika is a fairly generic track, but Lovesuit is a track I can`t get enough of. Deep River continues that feeling without missing a beat; it almost feels like the song is just making a slight adjustment to its route, but the final destination is unchanged. If these songs don`t bring a smile to your face, there must be something wrong with you.

Emergency Street is confident and robotic in nature and the beat drives the song to a somewhat repetitive ending. Caught on Video could easily be caught on an album coined by Ric Ocasek, recapturing that sound so perfectly played in the Cars. Feet First is one of their more interesting and varied songs, showing some diversity and emphasizing the use of horns. This instrumental song is one that would feel at home on any Tarantino soundtrack. I`m a Parade may be the quietest and barest song on the record, but underneath it has quite a bit of substance. Teen Dreams, the final track is one of my favourite songs on the album. But then it just dies, abruptly fading out. Now, there`s nothing wrong with a song fading out. But that song just wasn`t finished, for that matter the album wasn`t either. It`s a terrible end to an otherwise great song.

Overall they craft a well rounded album with each track varying in scope and sound, moving from slow to quirky to upbeat energetic ear candy pop. They sound like a lot of popular artists from the past including the Cars, Devo, XTC, Thomas Dolby, Dire Straits, Talking Heads and the English Beat, yet they still manage a sound authentically their own. While the tone of the album may be a happy one, the lyrics and themes rarely are. It`s what`s underneath that`s truly interesting and keeps me coming back for more. On a technically point the instrumentation, vocals and production are all top notch. I definitely recommend you give this album a listen, it may not change the world of music but it sure is fun to listen too.

Score: 6.9

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Dave Loft

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