Happy Birthday (our artist of the week)
As opening songs go, it’s definitely hard to beat the catchiness of “Girls FM,” which draws you into Happy Birthday’s debut self-titled album like a siren at sea, or perhaps more appropriately, a tween’s overexposed cleavage at a high school party. Happy Birthday drips with infectious indie pop sentimentality, accompanied by intermittent shrieks of mild punk. Maybe it’s the lighthearted, playful tone or lyrics that evoke the classic teenage struggles of pimples, crushes, and insecurity, that make Happy Birthday so accessible and charming. (Personal favorite line: “Close your eyes, concentrate, I’m sending you subliminal message…. To your heart”). In any case, Happy Birthday is just appealing and inventive enough to become a real hit. The album never gets quite as good as “Girls FM” or “Subliminal Message,” but it’s definitely chock full of enough catchy melodies and funny twists to keep you interested (including a song entitled “Maxine the Teenage Eskimo”). The falsetto croons of “2 Shy” and “Perverted Girl” evoke a pop sentimentality with undertones of a more lo-fi of Montreal or MGMT. However, for me, Happy Birthday gets off track when it tries to be more waily punk, as in “Cracked,” although I suppose it fits with the teen angst theme. The possible exception to this is “Zit,” whose lyrics “Now I wanna break shit/ Don’t want to make shit/ Just want to waste it, yeah” are just amusing enough to work. Also, the album is so heavy on hooks and harmonies that it can get a bit tiresome after a while. Nevertheless, Happy Birthday doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you can’t help but join in the fun; it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser apt for a solid recommendation.
-- Gina Bull
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