After last year’s brittle, buoyant, jagged and jilted turn as The Surfing Magazines I was eager to see how Dave Tattersall and Franic Rozycki returned to their home in The Wave Pictures. While their latest is a far cry from the precision take on art-surf that tumbled out of the speakers last year, Brushes With Happiness is no less intriguing. Recorded as a one-night stand with only some lyrics in hand, the band entered the studio, stripped back the walls of inhibition chemically and laid down the album as an improv to tape. The result is a minor key comedown that’s batting the bare bulb around the room and slowly curling into the embrace of depression-laced garage blues.
The band nails the codeine cool of late night diviners that came before them, finding a detached swagger in the menacing single, “Jim” or the slinking follower “Laces.” The album’s off the cuff nature gives it a distinct and consistent mood, vibing off the room and practically sweating sour sneers and old smoke at every turn. The songs don’t get overly samey, but they’re clearly part of something bigger than themselves. It’s an album’s album, a suite that’s imbued with the nighttime, infused with solitary penance and grappling with demons itching just below the surface.
While the band are admittedly reaching for their Tonight’s The Night Moment, they aren’t quite clamping down that degree of indispensable output, but that’s not to say this isn’t a shining moment in The Wave Pictures’ catalog. Brushes With Happiness is an abrupt heel turn on the majority of their UK contemporaries – loose, unfussed with hooks, and crackling with an energy that’s not built for the machinations of radio placement. Instead the band have followed their own muse down the crumbling k-hole and come out the other side with a delightfully cohesive and dour record that’s a perfect drinking buddy. They embrace the ache and put it back out into the world for one more revolution.
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