""Don't Be Happy" warns this bittersweet Neil-Finn-like pure pop nugget. After listening, we'll happily disobey.
I read an interview with Pete Townsend a few years ago, where he said that writers are at their best when they’re unhappy. He could be right – even when Brian Wilson was cranking out hatfuls of feelgood, California classics, he was getting yelled at in his good ear by his control freak dad. So, Captain Wilberforce’s Simon Bristoll is in esteemed company here. Try what he can, he can’t seem to get a date for the weekend, or he can and they’re terrible, or they beg him for attention and he refuses their advances, or…
Jeez, dude… Chill out.
This all-pervading mood of grumpiness seems to be the catalyst for probably the best album you’ll hear this year. For the uninitiated, Simon is the leading light of CW and has been steadily knocking out PopRock nuggets of gold since the early 2000’s. This is his best yet. If Neil Finn isn’t nervous, then he should be.
But let’s talk about Mr Bristoll’s state of mind. I’m worried about him. Sometimes it seems, not being able to find a date for the prom is the least of his worries – on “Stickleback Toffee”, he throws his hands up and declares “The truth is I’ve nothing left to say, But I’m going to say it anyway”. The majestic earworm which makes up the chorus of “The Johnny Depp Memorial Café” revolves around the phrase “Don’t be happy” – and yet this music is so goddamn joyful. Apart from the ballads (which will tear your heart out, jump on it and rip up pictures of your family and friends right in front of your face), his album sounds like a hungover Jellyfish (the band, not the gelatinous sea-creature) racked with self-doubt but bristling with diamond studded melodies and lyrical couplets that’ll make your head spin. You want diversity? – nestling between a prime slice of noisy Pop (“Good Times, You Said”) and one of those lethal ballads (“Someone to Love”) is “Skin”, the mood and lyric to which would give the chaps in Slipknot, nightmares for months. But you could whistle the tune all the way to your therapist.
You wanna be cool? Get this album, talk about it in a loud voice in bars and pretend you’ve been a fan of the band for years. And when the rest of the world wakes up to the stellar quality of “Black Sky Thinking”, you’ll forever be known as…” that cool guy”. You know it makes sense.
Get the album at Captain Wilberforce’s Bandcamp Page and name your price.