For their second album, Write In, English trio Happyness reach back into the sweet-dreamy sound they established on 2015's Weird Little Birthday, but emerge with a touch more serious, consistently reflective tone. They also veer a little from the slacker rock influence of their debut, seeming to carve out a space of their own near a convergence of '90s jangle, psychedelic-period Beatles, and Real Estate. They land closer to the latter on tunes like the scene-setting opener "Falling Down" and the ambling "Victor Lazarro's Heart." Elsewhere, after an R.E.M.-evoking intro, "Anna, Lisa Calls" carries a tune and harmonies that could be straight out of the British Invasion, if with a contemporary, hazier sound design. The song's bum-bah-bah backing vocals and double-tracked lead, along with echoing harmonics and feedback, contribute to a simultaneously retro and indie-era impression, a balance they manage to maintain on most songs while still sounding fresh. Even the lush rocker "Anytime," with its undeniably post-shoegaze sound, plays like the memory of an old movie, or perhaps more so a haunting by the distorted specter of an early power pop group. They take a decidedly psychedelic approach on songs like "Through Windows" and the impenetrable "The C Is A B A G" ("and the sky has a film"), but a knack for sunny tunes and an off-kilter delivery keep everything sounding like themselves. That and the ability to produce songs that feel at once familiar and new are tricks that should make Write In the envy of many an up-and-coming indie rock band.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson