Happy Doghouse - Above the Stars
(2016 Secret Songs)
While much of the internet's DIY scene works to carve out their own intimate lo-fi crawl spaces as a means of combating the sense of smallness that streaming services' glut of choice can impose on fledgling projects, Korean shoegaze outfit Happy Doghouse combats the vastness of the Web with stadium-rock grandiosity. The self-proclaimed puppy-punks' sophomore EP is spaciously arranged, a low-gravity chamber housing milky trails of space debris, muscled right-and-left hooks of colloid guitaristry and resonant trap percussion that wouldn't feel too out of place on a Bones mixtape. Leadoff tune "don't give me grapes" is sturdy and skyscraping, a slow-burning anthem that plays like the festival EDM remix of a track from Beach Fossils' Clash the Truth: despite its timbral roots in twangy twee-pop, Above the Stars is a record that fits snugly alongside the airy future-bass aesthetic of Ryan Hemsworth's Secret Songs label.
"Throw My Ball" exudes the whispered fragility of a particularly contemplative scene in a Rankin-Bass Christmas special, breathy vocals piercing a translucent layer of strings and glassy keys. It feels as if a janitor had unwittingly placed a large space-heater in the center of the icy, vacuum-like installation that is Beach House's Bloom. Happy Doghouse's sound is colossal in scope, but as inviting as a stoked fireplace and the smell of muffins in the oven.
Above The Stars is a shoegaze void that's anything but void of warmth - it's a leap of faith into an eternally hot shower.