Review Summary: it has its moments, but the cake is still half baked.
Maybe I’m an ignoramus, but I still get irked by Happy Birthday’s self-titled debut. Everything about it is disorganized to annoying levels, and although I generally appreciate messy bands, Happy Birthday took it a bit too far. When you hear the genre called garage rock, what do you imagine? Personally, I imagine clutter up to the eyeballs, garbage as far as the eye can see. Basically, I imagine what my family’s garage is: a place to put garbage in, accumulate garbage, and occasionally search forever to find specific garbage in the disorganized landfill. No, I’ve never liked garages and never will, but I may still enjoy a few garage rock albums. This is because no matter how much garage there may be, there will always be a few treasures. In the same way, Happy Birthday may not connect with the hoop every time, but when they do, it’s highlight reel material.
As seen by select tracks such as ‘Girl’s FM’ and ‘Subliminary Message’, Happy Birthday can write nice, hook filled choruses. However, they can also write careless songs, and “careless” practically describes the rest of the album. Whereas the two songs I mentioned evoke a bit of euphoria, the rest are much less memorable, and strangely, not really that fun. This is probably due to the band’s indecision in the type of music they want to play, and therefore the album is a confusing experience. The band is primarily garage rock but consistently switches to psychedelic, punk, dreampop, and shoegaze music. Considering that the album is basically a bunch of songs the lead singer made before joining the band, it makes sense that the album lacks cohesion. The problem with this, however, is that the vibe of Happy Birthday
constantly hovers but neither lands nor flies – the album is difficult to get in to.
The album is messy enough already without horrible recording, oh wait, it has that too. The production is about as sloppy as vomit after eating twenty sloppy joes and also guzzled nine half-done milkshakes. To make matters worse, the singer sounds as if he stuffed all his vomit back in his mouth and proceeded to sing through his nose. Perhaps this is unfair imagery (they are) considering that Happy Birthday is a garage band, and also considering that I could tick off a lot of people, but it is too late to turn back. It is also too late for Happy Birthday to turn back, for they are already on the path to garage rock greatness and will surely be worshiped by many minions. Perhaps the band will care to put more effort into their music when they release a second album, but all indications point to a sign, and the sign says “no”.