by Alex Monzel
It begins with a screech. Should’ve waited until the hangover passed to listen to this one. Hopefully you don’t make the same mistakes as I did when you listen to Happy Diving’s third release Electric Soul Unity. Hailing from Oakland, California, the alternative quartet are wrapping up their rather extensive North American tour at the end of this month, and what better way to celebrate than with an album release, right?
The aforementioned screech left me with a sour taste in my mouth and an Advil in my hand. By the end of the first track, “Bigger World” (perhaps the next installment of their first album’s “Small World” and “Big World?”), the taste was gone and the headache still remained, though it became easier to ignore. My foot was tapping and that Advil was becoming less and less necessary.
Though the lyrics weren’t anything to get stuck in your head for weeks on end, I’d still categorize the majority of these tracks as incredibly catchy. Sporting some unique compositions, Happy Diving managed to put some interesting spins on the same chord progressions we all know and love.
Similar to how the chorus in contemporary pop music has been replaced with an EDM-style drop that balances the components of the song, Happy Diving strikes a fair bargain between the vocals and instrumentals, but with a more classic rock feel. With a style that’s an echo of the time when everyone knew the lead guitarist’s name as well as the singer’s, Electric Soul Unity is a nice reminder that guitars are more than just background noise. It’s refreshing to hear a band that doesn’t rely on their frontman, but actually displays some range in their compositions.
When I say range, don’t think I didn’t notice that over 75% of the tracks begin and end with guitar feedback. It’s a cool effect and all, but relax.
Though I enjoyed the more upbeat, heavily distorted tracks like “Electric Soul Unity” and “River Will Flow,” my favorites were more of the down-tempo songs like “Unknown Feeling.” The penultimate track adds this brief interruption to the flow of the album that reminds you what you’re listening to, and catches you off guard for when “River Will Flow” brings the record home.
Definitely a band to watch, and a band to try and catch on the final days of the tour (Canada and west coast only). Personally, I’m looking forward to the next album, the first track of which I am predicting now to be titled “Biggest World.”