Belonging to the same London niche that's home to artists like Charmpit, Fresh and Dream Nails, indie-punk songbirds Happy Accidents have spent the last several years enjoying the modest spoils that come with a budding fanbase. Swiftly signing to Alcopop Records after forming, the group released two long records – 2016’s You Might Be Right and 2018’s Everything But The Here And Now, respectively – to applause from the demographic that adored them. On the surface, it seemed the group had everything an emerging artist could ask for.
However, despite such modest successes, there’s been change in the house of Happy Accidents as of late. Last year saw the dynamic being shaken up after the amicable departure of their bassist. Following this, the now duo went onto cut contractual ties with their aforementioned label in order to retain total control and to free themselves from the business originated shackles that can sap the creativity from artists. A major change that some may artists may go onto regret indeed, but it seems Happy Accidents are set to be fine traveling onwards solo. Encapsulating such change is the group’s third long play Sprawling, a self-recorded release that shows the group’s future is more than safe within their own hands.
Despite the record’s namesake invoking far flung imaginary, in truth, Sprawling see’s Happy Accidents streamlining their now literal indie sound. Whereas their previous work playfully dabbled in moments of sherbet lipped pop-punk and adolescent emo, Sprawling is a much more focused, with the group doubling down on the slightly more darker and sombre elements within their sound. Yet, it’s more spacious, considerate and musically articulate.
Ambivalent opener ‘Whole’ immediately animates such a fact. More slow and gradual than to be expected, the track is a slow-burning progressive indie swath that see’s dummer Phoebe Cross’s featherweight vocals being the antidote to guitarist Rich Mandall’s more neurotic crooning. Yet, as the group delve into the blissful indie harmonies of ‘Secrets’ and the withheld spring scents of ‘Grow’ and 'If I Do', it’s clear that there’s been more than just a shift in style within Sprawling.
Within such content, textures seem far more enriched and left to organically breathe more when compared to the pop layers found within the record’s respective predecessors. As documented within the electronic led title track and the moon lit indie doodles of ‘Sparkling’ and 'Outside', Sprawling see’s Happy Accidents choosing to pay far more attention to intricately weaving textures rather than paying homage to punk dues. It’s more sombre, forlorn and slightly aurally lethargic than the punk genre tag that can be implied to their namesake suggests. Truly, this record has more in common with artists like Cavetown than say their previously stated scene mates – especially given the record’s parchment for more electronic key led tracks and lack of unfiltered reverb.
Still, this change in direction plays massively into the inner passion and emotion of Happy Accidents. With the group choosing to focus on more slower and clean movements, the experienced emotion that evenly blanketed their work is far more palpable than before. Despite the wry lyricism of both Rich and Cross being ruminations of the their personal struggles in this increasingly deafening life, it’s impossible not to draw personal parallels from the fantastically expressed human condition within Sprawling.
The only criticism that could be applied to Sprawling is that occasionally the youthful energy that fuelled their early works has been substituted for the more detailed richness within their sound, something that becomes a bit evident as the record progresses into it's final chapter. But given the payoff, it’s barely notable. Sprawling may be a change to Happy Accident’s documentations of life, but it’s more than that – it’s a sign of the group’s finesse as musicians and an indication that their future is completely safe in their own hands.