It’s nice when we associate certain pieces of music with specific things in our lives; the nostalgia ringing in our ears at the sound of a mere, yet very recognisable note. London indie-“punks” Happy Accidents’ sophomore album Everything But The Here and Now has that exact effect, however all it reminds you of is the soundtrack to every British coming-of-age film aimed at teen girls.
That’s not necessarily a negative when you consider the likes of Scouting For Girls, The Pigeon Detectives or Girls Aloud. The lyrics have a youthful element to them, covering the same turbulent themes seen on screen in such movies like Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging: love, confusion, sadness, and hope.
Unlike previous releases such the Not Yet Jaded EP and first album You Might Be Right, the three-piece seem to skirt around the heavier compositions, as most tracks on the new release fall greatly into the indie-pop/-rock/-emo sub-genres with very little hint at a punk influence. Everything But The Here and Now opens with one of its stronger tracks ‘Nunhead’, which creates a pleasant, chilled indie-emo vibe, with twinkly, simplistic keys. However, they may have set the bar too high too soon as it’s mostly all downhill from here.
This record is drummer Phoebe’s first attempt at taking on the role of vocals, and thankfully only features in a few songs. ‘A Better Plan’, the first song in which she takes the reigns, is generally cringey, uninspired and undeveloped. The overly pop-ish track doesn’t sound like it belongs on a debut EP, never mind a second album. Phoebe’s vocals unfortunately fuel this view, as she gives the impression she’s singing with a very flat, fake British accent.
Lead single ‘Wait It Out’ is one of the only tracks that can be considered somewhat close to punk, and stands out as a distinctive follow-up from the rest of their catalogue. Featuring a fun, upbeat chorus filled with plenty of crash, and a verse reminiscent of The Undertones’ major hit ‘Teenage Kicks’, ‘Wait It Out’ is destined to become a real indie anthem with a slight emo twist.
‘Sink’ and ‘Text Me When You’re Home’ take the emo edge a step further as these darker, more emotional tracks captivate you out of the blue. The minimal use of instrumentation in the latter allows more focus on the lyrics and the sudden yet desperately needed development of Phoebe’s vocals as she drops the accent and controls her pitch in this lower, lamenting song. This is by far her strongest track vocally, although it’s a shame it takes eight tracks for you to hear her potential. In comparison, ‘Sink’, the final track of the record, features just Rich’s voice for the most part, which is soft and rife with emotion. However deep and beautiful the song is though, it really isn’t the note you’d expect it to be left on. The album goes through an array of moods and tempos, but this depressing theme wasn’t the one to end it with.
Happy Accidents are clearly moving in a different stylistic direction, but it feels like they’re still coming to grips and experimenting with these new genres. In comparison to their first album, this does sound like a step backwards as they’ve carried forward some elements from it but not actually developing them further. The album as a whole feels rushed in the sense that so many major parts aren’t up to scratch, especially knowing the potential it had.