Review: Under Sleeping Waves - Happy Particles

"Under Sleeping Waves" - Happy Particles
December 25, 2011

     Many great indie rock groups hail from Scotland, and Happy Particles may just be the most important. Taking key components from important Scottish bands (the atmospheric and airy brilliance of Cocteau Twins,   the dynamic post rock sound of Mogwai and the free flowing jazz of Belle and Sebastian) to create the perfect balance of ambition and accessibility culminating in one of the most solid albums I've listened to this year.

    Happy Particles is really what you'd call a "dynamic" band, shuffling through genres and influences on a track-by-track basis. In the opening seconds of "Aerials," I was prepared for yet another post electronic band. Boy, was I wrong! The song had an aural presence I thought only Sigur Ros could give us. At that instant, I was gripped. I wanted, no needed more Happy Particles. "Infinite Jet" is next in the rotation, the vocals strangely reminding me of "Sprawl II" by Arcade Fire. It's a tumultuous free ride through the atmosphere, perfect to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and just listen.

   "Slowness" could be compared to Robin Guthrie's more recent output with its chorus-y guitar and the blanket of strings enveloping the listener. Goosebumps by the millions are guaranteed to form with this track. "Guide Dogs of the Inner Cities" plays like Mogwai's cool younger brother. Fresh, but with more edge. "Offline Contact" is elevator music that's actually worth listening to, but the stunning "Reprise" follows it up, a song made for the saddest movie ever filmed. Another hair-raiser here, my favorite track by far.

  "Come Home All Dead Ones" kicks off the second half of the album with an almost painfully gorgeous slow burn of swirling guitars and violins. "Empty Circles" follows, but is overshadowed by the instrumental "Classes in Silence." It showcases a sole string section, but provides a break from the action, although it's a very exciting break, mind you. The chiming keyboards on "AM Sky" are the perfect way to say good bye. But don't think it's all over. After thirty seconds of silence, Happy Particles treats you with an amazing keyboard solo that would leave Brian Eno himself jealous.

   Under Sleeping Waves is a post-rock masterpiece, 10 tracks that will remain in my rotation for weeks to come. The price is ₤5, ($8.00) but that's a steal considering how great this album is. I can't wait to hear more Happy Particles in the future.

    Download their first demo for free.