“When it gets dark, I’ll leave my window open a crack and pull you up into a world of dust and sparks”
This is how Blaenavon introduce their second LP ‘Everything That Makes You Happy’ to the world.
It is hard nowadays to be completely and utterly honest, especially online. Judgement is always behind the corner, and I feel like the most fitting term to describe the current landscape is ‘overwhelming’.
Lead singer, Ben Gregory, has always been open about his mental health and supportive of others, and this album is a testament for everything people go through. It is a radical, truthful, pure record, and it came out exactly at the right time.
After Blaenavon’s first record, ‘That’s Your Lot’, which is a memorable indie album, I was expecting the second to follow its footsteps and, even if it did from a certain point of view, ‘Everything That Makes You Happy’ stands alone in all its glory.
With eclectic tunes like ‘Catatonic Skinbag’ and ‘F*g up My Friends’, this album finds its perfect balance alternating them with gorgeous and luminous songs such as the opening song – ‘I Want You’ – ‘The Song’s Never Gonna Be The Same’, and ‘Quiet in Your Heart / Alone in Love’. The latter in particular carries a heavy weight on its shoulders, characterised by a simple yet meaningful acoustic guitar riff and Gregory’s soothing vocals. It is probably one of the most genuine and independent songs I have ever heard; with the addition of heart-breaking strings and growing percussions, it rocks the listener with a magical atmosphere that gives the whole record a unique identity. It is nice to find this kind of jewel in an album, it makes you think that the world is not that bad after all.
“Don’t trick yourself and break your brain by thinking you deserve some pain”
Talking about jewels though, it would be preposterous to not mention the real star of Blaenavon’s second album: ‘Skin Scream’. Ben Gregory’s voice has never been so clear and it is probably the most mature and structured song on the album. With sleek production and instrument choice, its lyrics are honest and naked in front of an audience who could not find the words to express their feelings, until now, of course. It is surprising how such a beautiful record could come out from such a dark period in someone’s life, but it is known that the prettiest flowers are born from mud. “It’s not about what you did, I can get over that…”, forgiveness is such a forgotten concept sometimes, and Blaenavon really went beyond themselves to forgive everyone, but most importantly themselves. What a comeback.
“What’s the point in getting dressed if I’m only gonna take my own clothes off and go back to bed in a room you used to hold me in?”
‘All Your Vanity’ and ‘Never Stop Stirring’ sound like a coming-of-age movie soundtrack, and I am happy with that. The opening track, ‘I Want You’, and the closing one, ‘Everything That Makes You Happy’, could not be more different, but maybe this was the band’s objective. It’s like they had a revelation and they’ve grown throughout the record. It is so important to talk about one’s feelings, and for sure the British band is not scared to do so. ‘It’s okay to feel it’s unjust, once I got so f*cked up I left my girlfriend crying alone with a guy I wouldn’t trust with my dog’ is such a pivotal quote, because it really shows that fragility and bad decisions are a part of everyone’s life.
With all these real-life references, it is difficult to pinpoint the reason behind this album’s title. We all want to be happy, but happiness is overrated. Or is it? Chaos and confusion are the tyrants of our brains but albums like this help to put an order to it. It is a personal album and Blaenavon should be admired for releasing it.
“How much is too much to drink alone? It doesn’t matter when your eyes are closed, asleep in perfect pain, awake to start the day. And find someone who feels just fine.”
I don’t think there is much left to say about this record, but the only word that comes to my mind when I try to describe it is ‘beautiful’. It is a beautiful record with a beautiful meaning behind it, with lyrics that should be screamed by thousands of young people in arenas and sounds that echo in everyone’s chests because they resemble their heartbeats.
Kudos to Blaenavon, this record is indeed Everything that makes [us] happy.
“The world is lovely, pure, divine. Don’t let it crush you: you’re not the first.”