Monday, April 23, 2012

Happiness Factor - Self-Improvement? - 2001

Cranking out heavily caffeinated pop tunes with a super-sized chaser of smirk and attitude, the Happiness Factor sound as if they're firmly in touch with their inner punk on their debut album, Self-Improvement? Fronted by tunesmith Salim Nourallah, the Happiness Factor are hooky as all get-out on these tunes, with a melodic sense that suggests the Cavedogs or the Flashing Lights after a can or two of Red Bull, but Nourallah's often witty, sometimes caustic lyrics and Paul Averitt's crunchy guitar figures throw a healthy dose of rock & roll into the mix that cuts through any treacle like a knife through Cheez Whiz. While Rip Rowan's by-the-numbers production doesn't do much for the band's energy, the songs are good and the players know how to bring 'em across, especially on "Gonna Be a Rockstar," "I Want You But I Don't," and the suitably cynical closer, "Everything's a Lie," while "Hold" gives Nourallah a chance to show he can convincingly make with the mushy stuff, too. Any band with a song like "Rock 'n Roll Pimp" would seemingly be playing Judas by reaching for the Big Time, but Self-Improvement? suggests that there might be room there for the Happiness Factor, assuming they don't run out of coffee (or whatever their stimulant of choice might be) along the way. -AMG

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