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'Backseat Mafia' review City (EP)

Updated: Nov 7, 2018

by Arun Kendall


The sun keeps on streaming out of Queensland with the release of The Double Happiness EP ‘City’ today. We gave an enthusiastic review of the debut single (also called ‘City’) last month and there’s always that twinge of concern as to whether the single is a diamond in a sea of coal. It makes me happy – dare I say doubly so – that this is emphatically not the case with the EP.


‘City’ is six songs of pure pop joy – unadorned, simple but shimmering, melodic and atmospheric. I’ve already noted the early The Cure influenced instrumentation and this is a common thread throughout the EP – effective, melodic and vital bass lines that form the very spine of the songs with delicately picked spider-lines of reverb-soaked lead guitar that emulates the style of fellow Brisbanites The Go-Betweens. What is more evident in songs like ‘Nanna’ is the way the lyrics adorn the mundane of life with beautiful observations: something commonly seen in the lyrics of Belle and Sebastian.

And just like Belle and Sebastian’s recent celebrations of ordinary Glasgow, The Double Happiness’s EP is a clear celebration of Brisbane, explicit in ‘Tall Buildings’ and implicit in ‘City’. Indeed the band has described the EP as a love song for Brisbane. Kristin Fergusson, vocalist and guitarist says:


“The EP explores the motifs of living in the shadows of tall buildings whilst being surrounded by strangers, awkward family moments and we also have an ode to Ping Pong!”

Indeed, this references the self-deprecating nature of the lyrics and the deeply personal and warm glow the bands exudes. It’s remarkable that the band formed on a whim after seeing brilliant eighties inner city paisley-shirted indie stalwarts the Ups and Downs reform and play a gig in 2015. We can be grateful to the Ups and Downs for more than their iconic music.


But this EP is not a one-flavour series of conforming pop hits – in the track ‘Double Happiness (I Want My)’ we see a more experimental side with the kind of eccentricity that recalls the B-52s. It is a fitting anthem for the band itself.


The Double Happiness is one of those rare bands that put songwriting at the fore – there are no great production tricks or special effects, in fact, the vocals were recorded in a walk-in wardrobe. Two guitars, a bass and drums with heavenly vocals, a touch of shimmering reverb on the lead guitar, and that’s it. Gorgeous.


The band are two couples and there is an intentioned degree of twee naivety in the whole tone but this is a style and it is a style that is done wonderfully and to great effect, with genes that stretch back to Postcard bands like Orange Juice and Aztec Camera in the UK, Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers in the US and The Clouds and Falling Joys in Australia.


Double Happiness? Make mine a triple.


Read the full article: Backseat Mafia

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