In one of the past decade’s best films, 2016’s Sing Street, Raphina tells Conor that being in love is being “happy sad”. Conor’s older brother Brendan helps Conor to understand what it means to be “happy sad” by giving him a record from The Cure. Conor then explains what happy sad is to his bandmates:
It means that I’m stuck in this shithole full of morons and rapists and bullies, and I’m gonna deal with it, okay? It’s just how life is. I’m gonna try and accept it and get on with it, and make some art.
That goth/new wave hybrid exemplified by bands like The Cure is a sound and feel that has become timeless and ageless. It seems to be a style of music that everyone from toughguy hardcore fans to top 40 pop listeners alike can approach with a positive outlook. Find me a person who can’t name a Cure song they love and I’ll find you a person without a heart. With an obvious appreciate and influence from this type of music, it’s clear to me that Gone From My Sight is also “happy sad”, but don’t take it from me, in their own words…
Basically, it’s lo-fi indie synth rock with hand claps and an 808, and a very sad, paranoid voice wondering why we’re all here, where we’re going after, and if it even matters.
The band’s name comes from the Hospice handbook, which is appropriate for the happy sad vibe. Life is temporary, pains will dissipate, let’s all float away and enjoy this moment, even if in a melancholy type of way. The band’s debut album, Twenty Twenty, is a perfect exercise in happy sad, with lyrical downers and contemplation amidst a poppy dance vibe that Joy Division and New Order would be proud of.
The album opens with a perfect pop tune and signer Keith Watts self-deprecatingly singing, “you know me better than I am”. When the song wraps, we flow directly into another dance track with a Hall and Oates-esque rhythm that eventually blends in a bit of guitar fuzz and dark synthwave sound without ever losing the uptempo or the handclaps. Each track continues this trend of new wave tunes with some more modern elements woven in that one cannot help but dance and sing along too, despite the dark and thoughtful lyrics about emptiness, selfishness, and loneliness.
For a year like this one and a time like now, this album is literally the perfect summary of both how I feel and how I want to feel. It’s hard to keep our heads up, not matter how much we want… we need… to dance and sing and love. This difficult but beautiful juxtaposition of sounds, tones, and emotions is exactly what 2020 is and I can’t help but just feel every moment of this album in my very soul.
Standout tracks: the dance rock perfection of “Selfish” and “Voices on a Plane”, the Rapture-esque disjointed while melodic “Bashed”, and the groovy ballad with a real Radiohead flavor “Big Day Out”
If you listen to one new album this week, this is it. Start from the top, close your eyes, and feel it wash all over you.