On Fillmore
Happiness of Living [LP; Northern Spy]

I deserve whatever sort of karmic retribution I receive for neglecting to getting to Glenn Kotche’s best band (yeah, I said it! Come at me!) since Loose Fur isn’t around anymore (yeah, I did it again! Come at me!).

Hopefully that opening only serves to remind us that living is indeed happiness, though all the shit we go through in our daily lives doesn’t seem to make that an easy philosophy to understand at the moment. Perhaps the dire straits of our current patriotic conditions are the ill-conceived punishment I suppose I asked to be lavished upon me for my transgressions. But as I write this review, a day late and a dollar short, we can turn the tide and meet up with the declarative statement of On Fillmore’s latest release. First, I would be remiss if I didn’t state that Darin Gray is an equal member and contributor to the wonderfulness that is On Fillmore. And more so, Happiness of Living. The album is indeed brimming with musical positivity and that is easily the influence of the Rio de Janeiro recording sessions. There is a bouncy, almost Tropicalia vibe that mixes with the eclectic, almost poppy narrative of the album’s instrumentation. Yet the bigger statement from Happiness of Living (I mean beyond my laced parentheticals and the lacy metadata) is this feels like a definitive statement from a band, not the years of space collected by two people in the same orbit, but circling different stars. It’s a cohesive idea — and I can’t believe I’m saying this because I love Northern Spy — but the album sounds like some lost treasure that Luaka Bop would dig up or some roadstop find on a Sublime Frequencies adventure. It’s borrowed exotica from South America meshes with the odd signatures Kotche and Gray have always dabbled in to create something not wholly On Fillmore, and yet the most On Fillmore album yet. This direction has threaded through the duo’s previous work, but it’s taken a giant leap (or rather, plane ride) to finally hit its target destination. And if going to Rio, even if it’s just through the magic of a turntable, I’ll take that as penance.


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