Somnambule - Writing About Music

Capitol K ~ Happy Happy

Happy Happy is Capital K’s third album. It’s also the first where Kristian Craig Robinson has expanded the lineup from just himself to a four-piece comprised of Leafcutter John, Adam Stringer and Jo Apps. It’s difficult to imagine this music being produced by one person – it has the feeling of group interaction. The music has a guitar-led sound, but the synths and electronics vy for attention as well.

Are you still reading this review? God that was a boring first paragraph. Sorry. It doesn’t do the album justice at all. Let’s try again.

Happy Happy is jangly, enthusiastic and it’s got great tunes, quite a few of which are hummable long after the album’s over. The whole thing is full of great pop music, but not the prepackaged, bland, calculated, over-produced supermarket music that inhabits the charts most of the time nowadays. This is more like the authentic quality you find in one of those little Italian delicatessens on a backstreet away from the globalised, horrifyingly homogeneous high street. The woman behind the counter in the deli will talk enthusiastically and knowledgeably about the goods she’s selling and when you try some of the cheese or sausage or cake you’ll know it was worth the trip away from Sainsburys/Tesco/KwikSave. Right, I think you’ve had more than enough of that metaphor. That’s the quality of the music covered – what does Happy Happy actually sound like? Well as I said before, the guitar’s immediately noticeable – quite a lot of the album is noisy, jangly and messy and it’s aided and abetted by some fine vocals from various members as well as wonderfully upfront and equally messy electronics, drums and bass. First impression is of a youthful, making it up as they go along kind of vibe. There’s little hints of Air, Daft Punk, Pulp, early Talking Heads, even Pet Shop Boys (mostly to do with the vocals occasionally sounding a little like Neil Tennant’s). It’s pop music, Jim, but the kind that takes pleasure in experimenting – it’s like all four members have just discovered what great sounds and possibilities they can create and are bent on showing us the fun they and we can have together. Capitol K prove that pop music doesn’t have to follow a binary either/or path of only guitar or only electronics – it doesn’t have to be The Darkness/The Strokes vs erm, whoever. Nor does music have to be retro to be fun. Capitol K – a pop band for today and tomorrow.

Okay, that’s something of an improvement. If we lived in a fairer world Happy Happy would be a top 10 hit. Do your bit for justice, buy this album and help it on its way.
Colin Buttimer
May 2004
Published by Absorb