November 05, 2001

Poor Rich Ones "Happy Happy Happy"

In 2001, many bands released highly-anticpated albums that disappointed their listeners. Some bands changed their style so radically, they weren't recognizable; some bands' former glories didn't seem interesting anymore, and others were just politely bland and repetitive, showing very little artistic growth. Whatever the reason, 2001 seemed to suffer from music from talented people who simply did not deliver the goods.

One band, however, quietly stepped up to pinch hit, and in turn made an album that sounded like what two of these disappointing bands should have/could have delivered. Far away in a country that's rather cold and slightly polite and a little more European, a band called Poor Rich Ones filled in the gap left by two highly disappointing acts, Radiohead and Jimmy Eat World. Both of those bands had two wonderful albums that inspired many and delighted the listener. Radiohead is less pop-oriented than OK Computer and Jimmy Eat World completly abandoned the gorgeous atmospheric rock found on their 1998 album Clarity for a TRL/MTV friendly (and accepted) style that betrays their past glories for a more Blink-182/teen market.

Let's get something straight: Poor Rich Ones are no newcomers, and they certainly aren't biting on anyone's style. It just so happens that Poor Rich Ones singer and songwriter William's angelic, high-pitched voice also sounds not unlike Thom Yorke. While Poor Rich One's sound is not as directly moody as Radiohead, their mixture of a crunchier rock sound with atmospehric textures was experimented with by Jimmy Eat World, most notibly on their 1999 album, Clarity. Though Jimmy Eat World obviously didn't think much of that style, it's good to know that Poor Rich Ones realized the obvious quality that the J.E.W boys didn't. That they hired Jimmy Eat World producer Mark Trombino to record Happy Happy Happy shows that they at least knew where to look first for goodness.

Despite the sonic similarities, Happy Happy Happy is an album that stands on its own. Though the album kicks off with the weakest song, "Twins," it picks right back up with "Happy Happy Happy" and, all the way through to the closing stunner, "Circular World," Poor Rich Ones simply throw down some of the nicest atmospheric sounds since, erm, well, Radiohead. It's easy to get into comparisons, but seeing as Radiohead seem intent of removing themselves from the kinds of "traditional sounds" like that found on Happy Happy Happy, it's good to know someone's picked up the flag. A sadly obscure release for a band who could, who should deserve more.

--Joseph Kyle

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