‘Happy To You’ Has Its Moments
I don’t have a clever title for you this week readers, because after listening to Happy To You by Swedish-American trio Miike Snow, I don’t feel happy or enthused to be very clever. As my title does suggest, there were some bright spots in an otherwise snoozefest of an album. I thought electro-pop was supposed to be, oh I don’t know, poppier, and make you want to dance. On the first track “Enter The Joker’s Lair,” I thought I stepped into a psychedelic Willy Wonka concert with the Oompa Loompas taking lead vocals. The beats and very strange music had me turning around every few seconds, thinking one of those clowns in a haunted house was going to attack me. There wasn’t much to the lyrics; apparently the protagonist didn’t remember where he was, but knew something bad happened. And that same thing was repeated a few times, with no story progression, and only about half the song had lyrics. The other “music” in the song was reminiscent of either an ice cream truck going down the road or one of those children’s arcades. Advice for the song: don’t lure kids in with inviting sounds, then teach them to get drunk or high enough to not remember if something bad happened the previous night.
Songs like “The Wave” and “Vase” I can hear being semi-hit singles, at least on the radio stations that strictly play this genre of music. The echoing vocals and the cooing on “The Wave” give it nice layering and provide some depth to a song in a genre that might not necessarily have depth. The second verse has profound lyrics about finding your identity when you’re told you don’t have one, and the metaphors used are spot on. The heavy drum throughout the song give it nice attack and make it one of the most memorable songs on the disc. “Vase” reminds me of one those “bad” 80s songs you can’t help but love. It’s catchy and infectious, but doesn’t make very much sense. I thought at one point the song was talking about some sort of oppression, but it veered off as quickly as it was introduced. I had to listen a second time just to see if I could get the drum beat down, because it confused me (don’t worry, I got it).
Length of a song was a problem for some of these tracks, like “God Help This Divorce” and “Archipelago.” The former could have been a decent song, the main character admitting how he screwed up and ruined the marriage by not letting his wife spread her wings. That’s love song gold! About halfway through the four and a half minute song, I was bored. In “Archipelago,” there is a certain homage to singer-songwriters who do it for the music, not the fame. When Miike Snow sings “crack his head…,” undoubtedly the most powerful line in the song, I felt nothing, and continued to feel nothing for the rest of the song.
“Black Tin Box,” possibly the best song on the album, has a refreshing yet haunting sound. Miike Snow all of a sudden turned into Blue October and added the much needed sound of Lykke Li. Once again the song references a relationship, and somehow the longest song on the disc didn’t make me lose interest once. The futuristic sound, something you might hear when a UFO appears, is leaps and bounds better than the beginning of the album. If the entire album were like this song, I would’ve enjoyed listening to it much more than I did. While there were some hits, there were also considerably more misses. Instead of making me happy, it made me indifferent.