Write In Your Own Life Story
It’s raining outside, you’re driving your sedan away from the house of your teenage crush, and, oh, almost forgot, you’re in a movie. The verdict is out as to whether or not you’re happy, but that doesn’t matter as much as this moment. Write In, by London trio Happyness, is an album that not only brings to mind such cinematic imagery, but also invites us into the lives of these three musicians. Their sound is personal, welcoming and honest. It can be rather difficult with some groups for listeners to try and situate themselves in front of the band as they’re playing through their songs, but such a challenge is not at all present here. The production of this album simply oozes with that living room/quiet little studio vibe, making it a very friendly listening experience.
Influence of the Beatles (the songwriting style) and the Smiths (the melancholy undertones) is evident and well-used — calling any track off this album a “copycat” would be out of line and wrong. Jon EE Allan and Benji Compston, the two vocalists, croon in a way that shows us their angst and grievances, but shines light on their closeted optimism. Doing this while respectfully paying homage to one’s heroes is notable, to say the least. The duality aspect of their singing style can also be used to accurately describe the album as a whole — not tied to just one emotion. Try again to imagine yourself as a character in some teenage love story: most teenagers are struggling to find themselves and how they feel, with most emotions interpreted as extreme ups or downs. Being a teenager has most feeling that no one can relate to the unique combination of pressures and desires — thinking that one is alone in the world. But the crazy part is that everyone knows what these feelings are like. You are not alone. Why tell you all these things? Because Happyness reminds us throughout the album that it’s more than okay to feel confused or uncertain, or alone, or afraid; they tell us that it’s normal, just a part of the story of life. Even if this album was all just humming with no articulated words, the same description would apply — that’s the power of their songwriting and instrumentals.
While comparing this work to other alternative/indie acts may reveal Write In to be simple, such simplicity is not to be written off as uncreative. The vocals won’t have young singers geeking over the impressive vocal chops and riffs. The guitar playing is definitely not the most technical strumming out there. Rhythmically speaking, a fair chunk of the songs on Write In could be found in an intermediate method book. Are these disses towards the band? No – in fact, it displays how powerful and descriptive music can be without being intricate or particularly technical. That said, in songs like “Through Windows” (probably the best track off the album), the band uses chord progressions that would have music majors turning their heads — not the kind of material you would find in a method book. The dichotomy of the joy in their songs as well as the somber sound plus the simple playing, coupled with harmonically interesting writing helps paint a picture of the band’s goal and the album’s sound. However, while they tell us more about themselves in this way, uncertainty still exists.
One track in the latter of the album leaves listeners a little puzzled. The tune, “Victor Lazzaro’s Heart,” begs questions like, “Who is Victor? Is he the protagonist (or antagonist) of the entire album’s story?” Again, maybe it’s best we’re left unsure, so we can all Write In our own version of the story.