Review Summary: The 2nd Have a Nice Life album.Note: this is only a review of the b-sides, demos are demos as usual.
Giving an introduction for Have a Nice Life is a difficult task. The reputation they’ve built over the past decade or so has been something of a legend. They made their first official album on a macbook for $1000, half of their releases are bootlegs, Antiochus and Robert Voor both have books written about them, but they don’t exist. Oh, and they live in the woods. Dan himself has narrowed their music down to “post-industrial doomgaze”, in a semi-joking way. But, he’s not too far off. Part of what I’ve always really enjoyed about the band is that you can hear so many different bands within their one sound. Joy Division, Slowdive, GY!BE, Nine Inch Nails, Jesu, and various others can all be heard in a glorious wall of noise. They’re also notable for not being the most active band around, considering their two official albums came out six years apart. But, the 2nd disc of Voids
should’ve been their 2nd album.
The first thing one will notice about this is that the songs exist much more on their own; it’s easier to listen to them as separate pieces. While Deathconsciousness
definitely had it’s better moments, Voids
is like most of the more accessible elements of Death
, but amplified with more post-punk influence. The first three tracks are all exactly what I’m talking about; the riffs groovier, the vocals more in your face, the tempos faster, and the structures more derivative. While Have a Nice Life have always sort of had a secret pop-edge, “Trespassers W” and “Defenestration Song” are kind of like other versions of “Deep, Deep”. Both are quite accessible compared to their more Swans-ish, drone-oriented stuff (“I’m Dr. House”, “Sisyphus”). The 2nd half of this disc holds more of what was typically on Death
, but for the most part the tracks just aren’t quite as good. “I’m Dr. House” in particular is a slow-burner that doesn’t really ever evolve into much beyond Dan’s chants and Swans-sounding instrumentals behind him. “Sisyphus” is basically a better version of the former track, and in fact it could’ve taken the place of a track on their debut and fit in just fine.
It’s a b-sides record, so don’t go in expecting tracks like “Earthmover”, but don’t write it off completely. The album has just enough meat to qualify as the follow-up to their debut, and a few of the tracks are really damn good. Not much ever meets the highs of their debut, but “Trespassers W”, “Sisyphus”, and "Destinos" are definitely among their best songs. As an actual album, it’s obviously not super cohesive, but if the band just messed with the tracks a little more, it would’ve been their sophomore release. It contains some of their most accessible tracks, and some of their most experimental. Don’t skip out on this if you dig anything this band did, it should be looked at as another studio album.