If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this was an unearthed gem from the height of Touch & Go’s classic era. On these six tracks, anxiety reigns supreme. The Chicago trio of Michael Vallera, Michael John Grant, and Luca Cimarusti create a desolate moment on Happiness with stark, tightly-wound songs that grind out the crevices where our deepest fears like to hide. Vallera’s incisive lyrics, half-sung, half-spoken are a scalpel, neatly slicing through the throbbing post-punk thrum. Vallera’s guitar riffs climb the walls like scaffolding on the hulking “Fear,” with Grant adding washes of lap steel and a mud-soaked bass backbone as the track spirals toward the void. “Idiot Bliss” drives bolts into the concrete, splitting the floor apart as isolation grabs onto every edge it can find where “Lie Design” pushes quickly through the decaying streets, thumping rhythms working as an empowering force to keep the last drips of light at bay. Happiness is a near-perfect EP that hits hard, leaves one hell of a mark, and says goodnight all in the space of 20 minutes.
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