Olafur Arnalds
Another Happy Day


2.5
average

Review

by Eli Kleman EMERITUS
February 24th, 2012 | 56 replies | 7,954 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Olafur Arnalds escapes the weight of darkness, only to completely forget who he is.

Icelandic contemporary musician, Olafur Arnalds, has captured the hearts of people the world over with his captivating brand of minimalist compositions. However, with this dedicated crowd comes a fair share of detractors, denouncing the artist’s craft as mere fluff; contrived songs which aim to be beautiful for the sake of being beautiful and lacking true musicianship. And while Arnalds has done quite a bit in his short career to prove those sentiments wrong, it appears his latest release plays into the role that his critics have been making for him all along.

Where last year’s Living Room Songs saw Arnalds at his most poetic and emotive, the soundtrack to Another Happy Day feels completely without a voice. This truly feels like Arnalds on autopilot, going through the motions as if to feign emotions and ideas that he himself does not believe in. It works on the level that most of these pieces sound nice, but rarely do they ever ascend to anything greater. It’s logical really, so that the music can fit into the confines of a film, but on a deeper level a lot has been sacrificed.

For those accustomed with the artist’s work, Another Happy Day should feel rather familiar. Arnalds, as always, finds comfort in his more minimalist outings, with the soundtrack being his most “no frills” release to date. Much of the record is spent coaxing the notes out of a few instruments, with sparse piano chords and lonesome violins filling the glut of the album. “Alice Enters” is a prime example of this, as not much fills the empty space aside from the rigid notes of the piano and stringed instruments. “A Family Stroll” and “Before the Calm” fall into this trap as well, mixing up only the backing atmosphere to give the songs their own identity. On the surface this appears to be what Arnalds has always excelled at, but even his bolder songs lack the emotional punch that has been so pervasive in his work. Most odd, however, is that Arnalds has decided to copy a surprising amount of material, even going so far as to redo an entire song with “Autumn Day.” These sections do not take too much away, but the lack of fresh ideas is certainly disappointing.

Another Happy Day is not so far gone that it is without merit. Much of the record feels flat, vapid, and without genuine artistic direction, but moments of genius do in fact rear their heads. “Everything Must Change” is one of the most bizarre songs that Arnalds has ever created, and easily one of his best. It’s a menacing track with short, curt violin strike that creates a feeling of tension throughout. The added electronic elements add a nice layer of depth, while the entire song makes several unpredictable transitions.

The score to Another Happy Day is not a shining example of Olafur Arnalds’ musical ingenuity, nor is it an absolute failure. As a soundtrack, it works. Moody music fills the background, and in that respect it is largely a success. Yet as a standalone listen, the record is a weak and almost slap-dash display, with Arnalds feeling regrettably uninspired. For fans this may be enough, but most will pass this off as another silly “neo-classical” folly.



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user ratings (25)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Jacob Royal STAFF (3.7)
Disquiet....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 24th 2012



10556 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Of course I was going to review this.

Digging: Saintseneca - Dark Arc

CaptainDooRight
February 24th 2012



26549 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ouch




Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

Tyrannic
February 24th 2012



3229 Comments


this review hurts my groin

Tyrael
February 24th 2012



20440 Comments


no

absolutely not

CaptainDooRight
February 24th 2012



26549 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

although we felt differently about this, your review was really good.

pos

pizzamachine
February 24th 2012



12568 Comments


A Xeno review means a pos is in order!

Island
February 24th 2012



577 Comments


troll pos'd

BLUEOmni
February 24th 2012



672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

"Icelandic contemporary musician, Olafur Arnalds, has captured the hearts of people the world over with his captivating brand of minimalist compositions."

Sentence doesn't really make sense.

Obviously I feel different about the album. I think noting that this album was completely written in 14 days would have helped tremendously. With that fact left out, it seemed like you were trying to add an extra layer of criticism to Olafur. Though, I don't really think you were trying to do that; that's just how it comes off.

On that note, I find it difficult to understand how you could give a higher rating to 65DOS's Silent Running, when all your criticisms were exactly what 65DOS suffered from.

Island
February 24th 2012



577 Comments


obv eli is wrong

whoa neg outta nowhere wasnt me

BLUEOmni
February 24th 2012



672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

It was me. I feel like the 14 days aspect played a pivotal role in this album, and that it most definitely should have been included.

Btw, I don't care if someone disagrees with me. Eli isn't wrong for not liking this album. And I'm not right for liking it.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 24th 2012



10556 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"I think noting that this album was completely written in 14 days would have helped tremendously."

I appreciate the detailed criticism, but I find this to be silly. Mentioning this wouldn't completely alter my review, and the time span in which it was written has nothing to do with how it sounds. Yeah it was written in 14 days, big deal I'm not going to praise him for throwing together a album in 2 weeks just for the hell of it. Also:

"..the record is a weak and almost slap-dash display.."

was indeed referencing the time frame in which it was written, as it felt hastily thrown together. I didn't make it a focal point of the review because frankly that would have been ridiculous.

BLUEOmni
February 24th 2012



672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

If this was just a soundoff, I'd agree, the reference wouldn't matter. If anything, it would detract from your impression. But this isn't an impression :/ Reviews are meant to cover the more abstract pieces of an album. Why does it sound this way? How does this album differ itself from others? If Another Happy Day was so much worse than Living Room Songs, wouldn't noting all the reasons why make sense?

And "slap-dash display" doesn't sound like a reference to the actual duration it took to slap together this album. You say "slap-dash display," not "slap-dash." When you say "display," it sounds like you're only relating to the album's sound, not the reason(s) behind it.

But these are just my thoughts. Your review wasn't bad, and perhaps I was too harsh in negging it. I tend to focus on the details far too much. What bothers me might not with someone else.

Tyrannic
February 24th 2012



3229 Comments


dude blue i'm trying to take what you say seriously, but you're reading way too much into this. (COMING FROM ME.)

pos'd, good review xeno yet to make a decision about my own rating.

BLUEOmni
February 24th 2012



672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Heh, maybe.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 24th 2012



23667 Comments


nice review, the negger is maaaaad

I still have yet to hear any of this guy's stuff. assuming I have the time/can find a copy somewhere, which album should I start with?

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

BLUEOmni
February 24th 2012



672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

...And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness

Dimor
February 24th 2012



1738 Comments


Haven't had the time to listen to this yet, and i certainly don't hope its a 2.5.

Dimor
February 24th 2012



1738 Comments


Also Tyrannic probably has the funniest user pic ive seen on this site. Lolling in my pants everytime i see it

BLUEOmni
February 24th 2012



672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

How did the Pos-Neg rating thing get reset?

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2012



16025 Comments


Hoping this is better than you say

Digging: Katatonia - Kocytean



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