All Your Happy Life is the second album by Brighton rockers The Wytches. Their first album was a dark and heavy piece with discernible grunge elements, but All Your Happy Life explores some newly found dark places. The band expanded to a four-piece after the first album, so album number two sounds fuller, with Mark Breed’s additional keyboard and guitar work. It’s as dark as it is gloomy, but at the same time not predictable. To sum up the album, it could be described as ’60s surf-rocker on a ghost train’.
All Your Happy Life starts with ‘Intro’, a short but effective instrumental that sets the mood for the whole album, and lets you know that you’re in for a spooky ride.
It flows seamlessly into ‘C-side’, the album’s first single. ‘C-side’ has a fresh and unique sound, but at the same time goes for a real old-school vibe. This song is a well-crafted surf-rock track that sits comfortably alongside the likes of Pixies, however it is so much more discordant and eerie. Singer Kristian Bell’s vocals are a lot less aggressive in this than previous releases and are reminiscent of John Lennon’s on ‘One Day at a Time’.
Following up is ‘Can’t Face It’, an aggressive, distortion-drenched track. This song is always exciting to see live as it never fails to get the energy of a crowd up, and makes you want to jump about and mosh. The shouting chorus is reminiscent of a song the band have covered – ‘Cough Cool’ by Misfits, a band they’ve acknowledged as a strong influence.
‘A Feeling We Get’ is a deliberately dark track with bewitchingly rough vocals. Close your eyes and you can almost picture floods of fans wailing along to the chorus with Bell: “Everyday I get this feeling I can’t shake, when the sun beats on my face”.
The contrast between light and dark in the next track, ‘Throned’, shows that The Wytches have a lot more in common with Nick Cave than just looking a bit out of place at the British seaside. The mood is somewhat volatile, as it constantly changes from a love song to a hate song.
‘Ghost House’ is up next; a gloriously ghoulish track that is beautifully crafted, and so much more than just a Halloween soundtrack. It sees the album crawl further into the shadows. Bassist Daniel Rumsey once said in an interview, “people who write or review the band often put spooky words in there, because I guess we are called The Wytches”. Despite Rumsey’s reservations about their sinister label, the lyrics of ‘Ghost House’ defy him, with Bell singing: “There’s something out of this world, for all the precious boys and girls, it walks this house, wants everybody out”.
The Wytches’ cinematic sound for ‘Bone-Weary’ switches the album from horror movie to spaghetti western with the fifties sounding guitar tone, but concepts of the good and the bad are within the central character, looking in the mirror.
The doom-like bass and sharply punctuated verse in ‘Crest of Death’ highlight the breadth of influences the band draw from, combining together to make a unique sound.
Although ‘A Dead Night Again’ predominantly isn’t as heavy in the guitar, the song still screams of frustration and lack of control. Because of their strong writing abilities, it is clear this band will be around for a while and it’ll be interesting to see how the youthful angsty vibes apparent in songs like this mature.
The rich, loose drum pattern in ‘Dumb-Fill’ is perhaps due to Breed’s jazz influences which are also apparent in Breed and Bell’s side project, Mark and Kristian Band. The quirky melody points to a lighter, more humorous side of the band which is far more obvious in the bands videos.
‘Home’ brings the album beautifully to a close. The dreamy melodies recall Red House Painters’ ‘Medicine Bottle’. It showcases Bell’s voice at his purest and cleanest, with him crying ‘you’re out of this world, you’re taking me home’. It’s fair to say the whole album is out of this world.