AV Super Sunshine are, above all else, songwriters. “Are You Happy?” is the latest entry in their growing catalog and drawn from their album Candyland Vol. 1 and they lay out the song in such a way that discerning listeners will be able to tell, from the first, that if you took away the effects and post-production manipulations of the song’s radio and club mix, what remains is a durable and sparkling example of popular songcraft at its finest. Though I believe the band pays deference and respect to past influences, AV Super Sunshine is a band of the present as well and their appeal can cut across genre and age lines with little effort. “Are You Happy?” is one of the best singles from anyone I have heard in 2019 and serves notice that this unique and uber talented band has yet to reach the peak of their powers.
I am taken with the way the vocals and music weave around each other without ever sacrificing any element of the musical arrangement or singing. A crucial decision they make ensures it will come across for listeners – the tandem of the lead vocalist and secondary singer Philomena bring a combination of emotion and attitude to the radio mix that is sure to capture any listener’s attention. The effect dampens only a little with the song’s chorus – the sound of the two singers is a little too diffuse for my taste, but they nevertheless convey the lyrics with a real sense of stakes that makes you sit up and pay attention.
The lyrics help in this regard. I like the question burning in the heart of this song title and they face it in the writing without any sense of cliché and a genuine wonderment about what their own answers, or others answer, might be. There’s no overwriting weighing down the song with too much verbiage – instead, the same keen sense of what the song needs musically reaches into the verbal realm as well.
The drumming and synthesizer work in the song are its defining musical elements. The drumming is obviously live rather than the result of a computer or drum machine laying down a rhythm for the song and the melody really comes alive with warmth and vitality thanks to the synthesizer playing. AV Super Sunshine are not content with just pursuing those ends, however, and adorn the song with other instruments that complete the song in a memorable way.
The club and rock mixes of the track are effective as well, though in different fashions naturally. The club mix is a much longer take on the track’s potential and will play well in the environment it is clearly aimed for while the rock mix will appeal to a wide swath of new and old fans alike. AV Super Sunshine’s “Are You Happy?” has many faces, as these mixes show, and I can say without reservation I found each of them compelling in their own way. I can’t wait to hear more from this great band.