Year 2, Day 8: Happiness Limited

Year 2, Day 8: Hot Hot Heat – Happiness Ltd

Track List

  1. Happiness Ltd.
  2. Let Me In
  3. 5 Times Out of 100
  4. Harmonicas & Tambourines
  5. Outta Heart
  6. My Best Friend
  7. Conversation
  8. Give Up?
  9. Good Day to Die
  10. So So Cold
  11. Waiting for Nothing

About the Album

Happiness Ltd. is the third studio release from Canadian indie rockers, Hot Hot Heat. The album was released on September 11th 2007.

Thoughts on the Album

Lets be honest here, majority of you probably have never heard of this band before. That’s okay. But moving on, Happiness Ltd. is 11 tracks of the signature Hot Hot Heat sound. What kind of sound might that be? Well if you want to quickly get acquainted, check out the review I did from last year of their album Elevator. This album continues with the jangly guitars and crisp vocals.

Happiness Ltd. is almost a complete 180 degree turn from Elevator, where Elevator was relative upbeat, Happiness Ltd. is more of a downer. But that shouldn’t steer you away before actually popping in the CD or the album or turning on the MP3s. Of course, there is dangerous territory here… if you go too far with sad, you get “bummer”. But this album steers clear of “Bummertown” and carefully navigates the streets of “Sadville”. And let me preface that by saying that, not every sad or down thing is “emo”. You can write a breakup song/album without it being generically lumped into the “emo” genre.

What the Hot Hot Heat excel best with this album are: booming and soaring choruses, foot-tapping/handclapping melodies, and jingle-jangly guitar riffs. Outta Here features some big hooks and cresting balladry and pulls it off almost perfectly. All the while Give Up? features a big soaring chorus. The title and opening track, Happiness Ltd., can only be described as epic and pleasantly over-the-top. The mix of keys and strings and guitar will have you hooked and won’t let you go. Happiness Ltd. contains the truism: “Happiness is limited, but misery has no end.”

Seriously, how can you not like a track like 5 Times Out of 100 when it succinctly summarizes the incredible odds against this poor, poor, man? I also, loved the piano work on this track… it reminded me a lot of Ben Folds. Good Day to Die starts off with a drum intro that sounds like it could be a Phil Collins tune such as I Don’t Care Anymore or In the Air (Tonight).  The song continues throughout that mode fused with multiple layers of strings, percussion, and of course, handclaps.

I’ll say this though, Waiting for Nothing could have been axed. I’m just not a fan of the track. Good Day to Die and So So Cold would have made for an excellent closing duo, which seemingly sends the album out on a great upbeat chorus.

Conclusion

I’ll admit a few things first. First off, Steve Bays’ vocals are an acquired taste. You’ll either love them at first listen or hate them. Secondly, Happiness Ltd. took a few listens for me to like it, it’s definitely an acquired taste. BUT! For me, it’s an entirely relatable album, I mean, seriously guys, come on, we’ve all gone through breakups. That’s the beauty of this album. It highlights Bay’s issues with romance.

It’s definitely a step up over Elevator but not quite above Make Up The Breakdown. But I gaurentee you, if you give Happiness Ltd. time and listens, you’ll love it.

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