Let Yourself Be Happy is a slight step down from the euphoric highs of Your Favorite Record; that's not necessarily a harsh appraisal, considering how incredible the first Linus of Hollywood album was. But even if it doesn't quite sustain the same sparkle as the debut, the album is just as endearing, and many of the songs are nearly as memorable. The album was again recorded solo, mostly in Linus of Hollywood's bedroom home studio, and has the same guileless charm that characterized his previous effort. He is without a doubt an artist of nearly unrivaled (Brian Wilson might have something to say about that) and unabashed romantic yearning, which is nowhere more evident than on an almost unrecognizable cover of Ozzy Osborne's "Goodbye to Romance." This time around Linus traded in some of the overt '60s sunshine pop predilections for '70s soft rock ones. The crisp sheen of the era's AM radio pop hovers over the album like L.A. smog. "I've Lost My Mind" breaks into a full-bloom Fleetwood Mac chorus that would probably fool even the members of the band into believing that they had recorded the song back in their hazy Laurel Canyon days. And when Linus ascends into falsetto, he could almost pass for Leo Sayer. But the album also jumps around the stylistic map a bit more, specifically trying out early rock & roll and doo wop influences, while also dipping into bossa nova with delightful results on "Whole New Country" and a cover the Smoking Popes' "Need You Around." Even more so, Let Yourself Be Happy owes a heavy debut to Phil Spector and the early-'60s Brill Building factory, right down to the angst-filled melodrama on swoony tunes like "Every Day I Fall in Love Again," the sweetly naïve "To Be a Girl," and "Where Are You," any of which would have been perfect vehicles for the Ronettes or Lesley Gore. And the album also offered the songwriter a chance to progress in other ways, not the least of which is his experimentation with new production and arranging techniques, as on "Thank You for Making Me Feel...Better," amazingly recorded using only beer bottles, and the vaudevillian pop of "The Girl I'll Never Have." Like Todd Rundgren, Linus proves himself more than capable of reproducing exactly the sonic quality of any pop era he wants, but more importantly, he is able to incorporate those sounds into his own unique and cohesive vision. There is nothing quite as sensational as "When I Get to California" or "Shine" on the album, and it is so blithe and breezy that it almost passes by before it can make much of an impression. But its superficial attributes alone are enough to reveal yet another level of Linus of Hollywood's impressive craftsmanship. -AMG
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