Van She

Idea of Happiness

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Van She's idea of happiness no doubt revolves around banks and banks of old synthesizers with plenty of patch cords and cigarette-stained keys. Their second album, Idea of Happiness, is a synth lover's delight as each song is built around some of the nicest, fattest, squelchiest vintage tones around. Add to that a nice line in alternately joyful and melancholy songcraft that sits firmly in the same '80s-inspired ballpark as labelmates Cut Copy, and you've got something pretty pleasing to the ears. Other good things about the band, and this album in particular, include Nick Routledge's nicely smooth and emotive vocals, the simple and direct sound of the production, the big hooks, and the soft rock feel they get on a couple songs ("You're My Rescue," "Sarah.") The blatant Caribbean strain that runs through the album is nice, too, "Coconuts" and "Calypso" seem to indicate that someone in the band had a nice vacation last year. Van She may not be the most innovative band doing this kind of retro-'80s pop thing, but they have a knack for writing songs that sound like lost classics. Though nothing on Happiness fits the bill as much as "Kelly" from their previous album does, a few ("Jamaica," the positively buoyant title track, and "Beat of a Drum" ) sound like they were sneaking around the Top 100 back in 1985. The rest aren't anything to relegate to the junk pile either. You may reach for Cut Copy or LCD Soundsystem first when the urge to listen to some inspiring retro-dance pop strikes, but if you make it to Van She and Idea of Happiness, you'll find plenty here to love.

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