Happy Particles are all about the mood. There were instant worlds created on the rightly lauded ‘Under Sleeping Waves’ a decade ago – even the title itself felt like the most perfect way to describe the effect of those darkly narcotising songscapes. ‘Every Room In My House Is In Darkness’ may be a little more on-the-nose with its title, but Steven Kane is still inhabiting those same planets on the outfit’s long-awaiting second album.
‘Polyatrial’ starts the album in a more urgent manner than you might expect, with the gentle, ticking dream-pop quickly giving way to raw, crashing drums and feedback-laden guitars that earn the “post” prefix that is hesitantly tacked on to Happy Particles. However, the sonic intensity doesn’t last long as the slowcore melodies and ambient arrangements soon take precedence.
The arrangements here are uniformly radiant, gorgeous affairs, with plucked acoustics and twinkling keys providing the colour on a canvas of swirling ambient washes and static (literal waves on ‘We’re All Dreaming The Same Dream’). ‘Pico’ and ‘DP/DR’ are probably the best examples of the carefully layered arrangements on offer here, while instrumental cuts like ‘Eyes Abyss’ and ‘Amnion Lantern’ add a little extra atmospheric padding between the more traditional melodies.
Lyrically, we’re mostly dealing with snatches of evocative phrases that might read like koans to ponder or simply gibberish, depending on how ruminative you’re feeling. A typical offering from ‘DP/DR’, for example: “Blood orange mirrors/In air/Only real sometimes/Past Lives.” It’s almost all bleak on the page – ‘Angelless In The Spectra’ contains “shallow graves” and “the gentlest knife against your throat” – but the key thing is Kane’s voice, which hovers ephemerally atop the music, as much a part of the texture as any instrument.
After ten years and at only a little over 30 minutes, there’s no question this is light. There’s a bit less variety in the instruments, but any sacrifice in variation is more than made up for in lush, cohesive power. Happy Particles still sound wonderful and anyone interested in a short, cheap trip to another astral plane should certainly inquire within.