A Leisurely Romp of Synth-Pop
Los Angeles-based trio Happy Hollows certainly earn the “happy” in their name on “Endless,” the jaunty opening track to their sophomore album Amethyst. Light, futuristic synths and pulsing treble guitars float alongside upbeat percussion, accompanied by vocalist/guitarist Sarah Neghadari’s quavering retro soprano.
“Galaxies” continues this bright, buoyant trend with spacey synths, rolling drums, and vocals reaching high, as if to attain the astral, atmospheric height. Likewise, “Hawaii” features a smooth, easygoing beat and a catchy bass melody that make it a perfect summer song, and “Stop the World” has a subtle surf-rock sound with guitars drenched in reverb. Happy Hollows try the retro vibe out on “Secret,” too, where Neghadari’s sugary voice takes on the confessional, voluptuous tone of a ’50s starlet.
But Amethyst isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The title track begins with low, vibrating bass notes and a slick, dark aesthetic, with Neghadari’s vocals sweeping from their customary high-pitch realm down to the depths of a low, sultry alto. The ominously named, guitar-heavy “Chop Lifter” has a gritty edge and the nostalgic number “Count No Years,” while upbeat, laments lost youth. “There was a time when we could run faster than the speed of light and straight to the sun / oh, we were young,” Neghadari sings. Even “Count No Years” doesn’t really delve into melancholy, though: it could just as well be a celebration and fond remembrance of being young.
Amethyst is a solid, enjoyable album, but it lacks punch and chutzpah that make music memorable. Happy Hollows definitely know how to make pleasing, mellow synth-pop, but Amethyst is just a little too chill.