Poor Rich Ones
Although this is their third full-length release, Happy Happy Happy is the first album to be released in the rest of the world for the Poor Rich Ones (straight outta Norway!). If it's accepted anywhere near the level that it should be, we can hopefully expect re-releases of their earlier albums, because they've created a gem of an album of beautiful pop tracks. Produced by Mark Trombino of Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World fame (don't get scared off, as the Poor Rich Ones really sound nothing like either group), the trio sounds something like a more poppy Sigur Ros with English lyrics.
The main basis for this comparison is of course the vocals of lead singer William, and while they float in a pretty falsetto, they're much more easily to relate to. Sigur Ros is more concerned with wrapping you up in amazing textures and sweeping you to another place while Poor Rich Ones just want to write a darn fine pop tune, which they've done 11 times on this release. Of course, they're not so bad themselves at creating great textures either, and although the instrumentation is much more standard than the aforementioned group, they can create quite an atmosphere themselves with their mixture of guitars, keyboards, various percussion, and a touch of electronics.
In fact, this disc opens up with such gurglings on "Twins" before a twinkling of guitars falls down over the rumbling bass and backing beat. Williams cool falsetto floats gently over it all and begs to be sung along with (even if you can't hit all the high notes). While "Drown" starts off with a bit of rumbling guitars, it turns into a pretty, almost fluttering track with the addition of multiple keyboard string sounds and more excellent vocals.
Although all the tracks on the disc are very listenable, the last half of the album is in particularly amazing. "New Lullaby" sounds just as it should with quiet chiming sounds and soft instrumentation that will sweep you up while "High Flyer" takes a bit more of a louder edge with a heavy bassline and guitars that have a bit of an edge before the chorus finds them turning into a shimmering squall of sound along with the keyboards and ethereal vocals.
I'm not sure if it's simply that the group is from another country or not, but while their sound is accessible, it also has a totally unique quality to it. It's pop music for people who don't typically like pop music and a breath of fresh air from overseas again. While it's not quite as magical as some things I've heard, this is a group that's doing great things and deserves to be heard.