Clever name for a band. Short, sweet, to the point. Although I would have to say that the band themselves don’t seem to be all that jolly very often, with lyrics of difficult relationships, lost youth and betrayal. On the other hand, the music and excellent performances lift up the spirit of the record and bring forth a joyful and rewarding listen.
The Audio Guide to Happiness has a new-prog kind of feel with some metal sheen. A song like “Ends Where It Starts” starts the album powerful and in-your-face, but the remainder of the record chills a bit into that Pink Floyd/Porcupine Tree/Pure Reason Revolution wall of sound. Indicative of the new wave of prog we’ve been seeing over the last decade or so. There remains an underlining energy at all times however, and by no means am I suggesting they are mellow, or anything but relentless.
“Joy” is what its title implies and a wonderful showcase for Anadale’s melodic vocal. There is also a strong sense of dynamics with various instruments bowing in and out on this song. I don’t feel that anything is enriched by the “cookie monster” vocals on “Where Everything’s Perfect,” or the over-treated-through-a-megaphone sound on “Still A Dream.” But that’s just me, I much prefer the more sensitive and affective vocal on “Storytime” and “Radiae.”
A Kino/Frost reference in “The Pattern” makes me like this song even more. I’m sensing a bit of the carnival in a song like “Pretty Darlin’.” An evil Killer Klown sort of carnival, but yeah… I find it gratifying that every time I listen to The Audio Guide to Happiness, I hear something different. One listen it was the prog-metal aspects I was hearing, another time I heard the Radiohead/Pineapple Theif traits, yet another time it was the characteristics of the Jem Godfrey/John Mitchell new-guys-on-the-neo-block.
The disc says this is “Disc One of Two” and includes lyrics to the second disc in the booklet. I don’t know how to get hold of that second part currently, but I will be looking forward to it immensely. If you are a fan of this new-wave of progressive rock bands like Porcupine Tree, Gazpacho or Pure Reason Revolution; or neo-prog like Sylvan, Frost or Unitopia you’ll be standing in line along with me.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on September 3rd, 2011