What does happiness mean to you? It could be reading in the park on a sunny day; spending time with family; or going to see your favourite band in concert. However, have you considered “finding joy in the inner-struggles that we face every day“? This is what the album Happiness, To Me is about, according to ONE ARMED JOEY. The trio from Sonoma County, California have been around since 2014, but are only now releasing their debut full-length.
Essentially, Happiness, To Me brings back a punk energy that is reminiscent of a band like GREEN DAY – opener Stalemate even sounds like a B-side from Dookie. Unfortunately, this is not a compliment; there is nothing special about the song that stands out. In fact, it sounds mediocre. It does not help that the song is under two minutes and it is not well-produced. It sounds muted and therefore the energy doesn’t jump out.
What also fails to help the album is that all the songs seems to bleed into each other. This means that the pacing of the album is average. Worst of all, it means that the songs have no individuality. This does change up a little bit on fourth track and lead single Numbstruck, which is an upbeat punk song that sounds a lot more like an old-school punk band. This is a good thing because it shows that the band have something decent up their sleeve.
Unfortunately, that does not last long. Lost Dog Parts 1 and 2 are both noisy punk songs. However, the individuality is not there. In fact, they both sound like Basket Case 2.0. Of course, as this is their debut record, ONE ARMED JOEY do not need to have their sound defined; however, some direction would be appreciated. Peace In Yesterday tries this by starting off with an instrumental opening that mixes up the guitars and drums. However, it soon slides into mediocre punk.
Punk should be about inspiring people with brilliant lyrics. However, the lyrics on Happiness, To Me are as lacklustre as the songs. They speak of bettering oneself, which can be inspiring to some; to others, it is one of the biggest clichés in the book.
ONE ARMED JOEY have tried their hardest on this album. They clearly love what they are doing, as the energy never slows down, but unfortunately that is all there is to this really. Apart from some great moments here and there, all the songs merge together to create an unidentifiable mess. The main issue with debut albums is that they can be the best thing ever, or a drop in the ocean. Happiness, To Me is the latter. It is a shame, because ONE ARMED JOEY could be one of the next best things, but the production is weak, the songs are uninspired, and they sound like they are chasing after the success of GREEN DAY. In another world, they might’ve joined the long list of successful bands in the 1990s, but that’s just not the world today.
Happiness, To Me is out now via Sell The Heart Records.
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