Happy Accidents – ‘Sprawling’ album review

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Happy Accidents – Phoebe Cross and Rich Mandell – have made a welcome return with third album ‘Sprawling’. Self-produced and self-released, the recent releases of ‘Secrets’ and the title track hinted that the duo would head into new territories beyond the catchy indie-pop that has served them so well in the past

Phoebe sings ‘Swallowed you whole’ repeatedly over quieter, dreamy piano at the beginning of album opener ‘Whole’. It’s a slow-burning intro with plenty of textured layers to wrap your ears around and is quickly followed by the Delta Sleep stylings of previously mentioned ‘Secrets’. ‘Grow’ finds Phoebe and Rich heading into a slacker sound as talk about breaking free from the ties that bind you in an effort to grow as a person: ‘Tell me when you’re OK. When you’re in the mood to laugh. Can we please be who we want to be?’

The title track has a DIY feel running right through its core as Rich offers an expressive insight into the state of his mind: ‘The focus is blurry, the backdrop is haunted’; ‘Are we always searching for some perspective?’ ‘If I Do’ sits in the same kind of melodic space as previous labelmates Peaness as Phoebe takes on the lead vocals and talks about moving on to something new: ‘You, I know you don’t want me to. I know you don’t want me to, but what if I do?’; ‘What if I sighed when elation would usually ensue?’

‘Sparkling’ is sprinkled with twinkly and experimental emo tones as the band talk about friends, worries and just how scary the prospect of change can be. This is followed by the convenient couplet of ‘Inside’ and ‘Outside’, the former starts with louder, stuttered Tellison-esque guitar hooks and has Rich revealing ‘I felt today I might not get much done’ while the latter is a slice of sadpop with Phoebe rallying against the past: ‘I don’t want to see our face. I see it every time I close my eyes’.

‘Back in My Life’ veers into surf pop with potent guitars and self-aware lyrics about losing something that could have been special (‘The years have slowly burned our trust away’) before the album comes to an end with the floaty, gentle and insightful psychedelia of ‘Comet’.

‘Sprawling’ is the sound of a more restrained and reflective but never-more riveting Happy Accidents. Jump in…

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