Music Reviews
Happy Tears EP

YAWN Happy Tears EP

(FeelTrip Records) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

Can there be a more ambiguous term than ‘world music’? Certain aspects of the YAWN back-catalogue fell within that description, perhaps, I imagine, due to their collaborative ambition and creative vision for wildly interesting and soothing sounds which can, I confess, involve the repetitive use of hand clapping. Nevertheless, as most ‘pigeon-holing’ does, the world music consideration delivers a bold disservice to them, and particularly their more electronic wanderings. The use of a bongo and echoing harmonies does not a world music sound make. You cannot deny there is obviously a certain influence from more obscure cultures which don’t often find there place within spheres of pop music, but isn’t that all the more refreshing? It seems to me far from being an ambiguous sound, theirs is distinctly recognisable. Percussion is always prominent as an infectious being, spindling guitars or keyboard effects often penetrate that wall of deep, anonymous embellishment and harmonic vocals span a vast range, entering their prism of sound and exiting as a multi-faceted and glorious beam of light.

I’m delighted to report that any concerns about the slightly unfocussed nature of Open Season has not endured into Happy Tears. It seems that touring the album has brought them to self-assured and clearly identifiable ambitions. Where Open Season spanned a great many genres, but quite thinly, Happy Tears has been rather tempted into electro-pop specifically. The wears of their previous recordings has clearly brought them to a moment of clarity, after all, they have probably experimented more than most. Narrowing their horizons was an absolute necessity in order to fulfil the potential that was evident all the way back to their YAWN EP. Don’t be disappointed at this if you adored their previous sound because it’s still evident, just in a more subtle and digestible manner.

All five tracks of Happy Tears represent the fulfilment of a sound which had its potential in their very beginnings but awaited fruition. You can take Momma’s Boy for example, which supresses itself into a form which is considered and specific. The arrangement of the quirky loop and the impressing swells reminds something of MGMT, but the moments are far more tender than their predecessors could ever be. While the efforts that have gone before on previous records were always interesting and captivated the listener, they have added a human element to their sound and their song-writing which I find to be a precious addition. Out of the pressure of melancholic delight comes Then They Come, a sound that escapes from the echoes of Momma’s Boy and then soars into ecstasy. The rhythm has discovered that it doesn’t need to constantly evolve as a matter of urgency, instead it can be the appropriate collaboration to another simplified element, the vocal harmonies. One or two hooks will do just fine and less meandering between concepts allows you to absorb greater pleasure from the lingering moments that remain.

Ganymede is a slow burning, shimmering explosion that delivers guitar music into electronica and allows the two to combust. It has a magnificent sentimentalism about it, in terms of it being the closest relative of their previous release. As the first track, and first release, it performs an impeccable transition into the irrepressible excitement of Take It With Me which has an air of mature contemplation. Perhaps not the obvious catalyst to enjoyment but I think it’s a melodic blend of empathy and indulgence which they haven’t mastered until this point. Finally, Yabis, sees their most electronic experiment to date with strange jangling accoutrements and frenzied expulsions; it is for all intents and purposes an instrumental which strikes a resonance with the sound of Hot Chip for depreciating melodic beats. A track which is, as yet, unsurpassed by them and as a signifier for their next LP it is clear that the experiment has gotten a little more focussed, the density of elements has been simplified and the result is a tempting revelation of the potential of this band. Their next LP could be something mesmerising.