Given Kid 606's reputation as a provocateur, Happiness could take that concept to a ridiculous extreme or be an ironic, eardrum-bursting noise onslaught. Instead, it continues the melodic trend of his later work, albeit with a very different mood than his previous album, 2012's brooding Lost in the Game. Miguel de Pedro's move from Berlin to sunny Los Angeles was a strong influence: there's an undeniably coastal feel to many of these songs -- "Party Gambas" even mixes in some chopped-up samples of seagulls to complete its beachy vibe -- and the well-groomed beats and neon and pastel synth tones often feel like IDM's response to Yacht Rock. Within this cheery palette, de Pedro still finds an impressive range of sounds, from the glistening "Smooth Sailing," which stops just short of being purely pretty background music, to "Coronado Bay Breezin'," which begins as a hip-hop-tinged cruising soundtrack before morphing into something more alien and acid techno-influenced. Breathy, bubbly tones are a major motif on Happiness, whether the tracks are short ("Taco Time") or long (the cheekily named "If I Am Allowed Only One Song on This Album with Cut Up Female Vocals Then This Is It"), and they help convey the lightness -- and fleetness -- of the album's inspiration. De Pedro prevents things from becoming too twee by balancing purely playful moments like "Cute Never Dies" and "Happiness Is a Warm Kitten" with elegant ones such as "Tarsier Treehouse," which blends subtle glitches and hypnagogic pop's fondness for synth presets from the '80s into a breezy confection. At times, Happiness is so breezy that it can make longtime listeners wonder if it isn't an elaborate, high-concept joke. However, the only time de Pedro breaks character is on the spacious closing track "Man the Failed Child (Thank You and Goodnight)," which serves as a somber shadow to everything that came before it, as well as a reminder to enjoy the good times when they're here. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- Happiness' disarming directness, it's one of Kid 606's most consistent, and consistently pleasurable, albums.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares