review: happy hell - "focus on the better things in life"

happy hell - focus on the better things in life
(2015 Captain Crook)

I can't help but think of this happy hell tape as a very botanical album; though by no means is it comparable to a vibrant bouquet, focus on the better things in life certainly does conjure the image of a lush tangle of greenery deep in the center of a forest, perhaps obscuring some hidden treasure or mystical portal to another world. It's not just the wonderfully expressionist cover art that gives off this vibe: the music itself feels very alive. Nimbly plucked acoustic guitar riffs branch off of each other, forming tapestries of ambling, vine-like melodies while mellow droplets of electric piano nourish the guitar arrangements, adding some jazzy flair to this emo-folk effort. The peak of the album lies two-thirds of the way through, on "maybe in the future i'll say something to you". Fusing Midwest math-y instrumentation with some Sentridoh-esque bummer pop vibes, the cut is charmingly melancholy, delivering the sort of hazy warmth that fans of Julia Brown and Alex G will enjoy.