1. The Crystal Lakes Handshake
2. Original Recipe
3. Stress Mess
4. We Just Ordered A Metre Of Pizza
5. Forget The Memories
This will very much come across as another “old man yells at cloud” moment, but does it seem like it takes more and more for a lot of music to be interesting these days? Genres have been done to death, there is no guarantee that genre-blending will get you any further, and trying to invent a new genre is like waiting for snow in Hell. Is the industry saturated? A debate for another day, but what exactly can make something stand out from the interminable levels of dross out there?
In lieu of doing something new or interesting, the simple demonstration of actually enjoying your craft works wonders. Rock and metal, largely, has an element of seriousness about it, and the heavier you make it, the better it is supposed to be. But that pursuit has a tendency to shed that sheer sense of fun that making music can have. It might be something that only those aloof critics who snark on everything notice (shut up), but a record that gives off the impression of genuine passion, even when in a genre that has been run so far into the ground it is presently somewhere around Earth’s mantle, will stand out so much more than others. A band that sounds like they are truly into what they are doing will make a far better record than any others that may go through the motions or adhere to the same tried (sorry, tired) formulas/genre restrictions of old.
Enter HAPPICORE’s debut EP ‘Kickflips & Stuffed Crusts’. Courtesy of a trio of pizzaiolos, the record combines the joyful sensibilities of pop punk with the punch and technicality of good old metalcore to short, sharp effect. At just-shy of fifteen minutes long, it’s not here for a long time, but for a good time – and the good times are very much apparent. Right from the excitable “Woo!” that heralds the brief but thumping intro of “The Crystal Lakes Handshake”, the EP screams “fun” and should be best enjoyed with a slice and a beer.
There is something of a youthful vigour that permeates throughout ‘Kickflips & Stuffed Crusts’ to the point that it borders on nostalgic. “Original Recipe” opens with a declaration of running away from responsibilities amid some chunky riffage that conjures the memory a juvenile teenage tantrum after your mum tells you to clean your room, whilst those long lazy lie-ins are immediately apparent in “Stress Mess”. It really does take you back to those care-free days as a teenager, only surrounded by upbeat metalcore riffage (not sure what your childhood was like, but that was the mid-2000s for you). And there is none more so upbeat than the EP’s highlight in “We Just Ordered A Metre Of Pizza” – sounding nostalgic and punky at once, but with arguably the best chorus celebrating our favourite disc-shaped dough-based dish this side of the underground scene. Dare you to not keep singing it beyond the first listen.
Closer “Forget The Memories” changes things up in terms of mood, with a slightly more downbeat affair and greater use of electronics during the song’s chorus. It is, arguably, the closest thing to a “typical” metalcore song, with its use of harmonised guitars and a delightful rumbling bass during the verses, though a slightly less technical fare. It is a strong song in isolation, but does feel a little at-odds with the rest of the EP’s perky vibe – perhaps a swap with “We Just Ordered A Metre Of Pizza” may have helped it settle better. Unless, of course, the final refrain of “goodbye, forget the memories” is the band bidding farewell to their youth and embracing the mundanity of adulthood, then sail on.
It’s often said in these parts, but HAPPICORE haven’t done anything particularly new on their debut, but it’s that extra element that sets the EP apart from their peers. ‘Kickflips & Stuffed Crusts’ is every bit the marriage of happy pop punk and chunky metalcore, but it is that sense of fun that flows throughout that makes for a far more compelling listen. Add in solid songwriting and solid production, and you have a great recipe for a delicious aural meal. Enjoy with the boys (and girls) down the road, crack a beer and get some pizza. Never Hawaiian, though.