When Happy Accidents released their debut You Might Be Right in 2016, the indie-punk boom was yet to fully swing into prominence. The road may have started to be paved with bands like Great Cynics and Muncie Girls, but the genre would take up a much more sizable sector of the UK market through 2017 more than any other time. And in what was to come through that time, a lot of the bands to emerge would sound a lot like Happy Accidents, with a lightweight, twee sound borrowing from mid-2000s indie-pop, and a delivery that would suggest a band without a rough or grimy bone in their body. That’s not to say that Happy Accidents revolutionised that sound, but they perfectly timed their jump onto the zeitgeist to make the most of it.
But with indie-punk now being so widespread – and, honestly, so many of its proprietors sounding exactly the same – Everything But The Here And Now sees Happy Accidents evolving, now with drummer Phoebe serving as a joint lead vocalist, and extra layers courtesy of synths and atmospherics from Hookworms’ Matthew Johnson behind the production desk. It leads to a sophomore album that still isn’t fully realised just yet, but, as a fuller, more fleshed-out release, is definitely a progression for Happy Accidents.
As for standing out among the ever-burgeoning crowd, that hasn’t quite been achieved just yet. The additional influence from mid-2000s indie-rock definitely leads to songs like A Better Plan having a more defined edge with the tiniest bit of grit in the guitars, but overall, it feels like a fairly standardised indie-punk album, with all the quirky, quintessentially British deliveries and inner turmoils masked by a sunny disposition. None of this is inherently a bad thing, but for a genre in which almost every possible affectation has become a staple, seeing Happy Accidents embrace all of them instead of bucking past them is a little disappointing.
But then again, it’s difficult to say that, for what little evolution is here at the minute, Happy Accidents are doing it well, if not among the best this scene has. As tempting as it would be to take any themes of being fed up with the wrongs of modern life on a song like Text Me When You’re Home and just wanting some time away from it all, and making it as twee and “relatable” as possible, there’s a lot to be said for Happy Accidents keeping to a ground level and doubling down on hooks and melody. Ignoring the sub-minute-long Float that doesn’t need to be here whatsoever, pretty much every song here has a punch that Happy Accidents are so good at utilising, and tracks like Wait It Out and Different Views actually find something to do with the “punk” part of their genre rather than just leaving it hanging as a perfunctory suffix. The production does help a lot too, now with additional keys that give a track like Nunhead an extra twinge of melancholy that only serves to build more layers onto it, and it does actually work in cultivating a more compelling sound that could actively benefit them in the future beyond the fleeting glories of a modern indie-punk band.
And while all that is ultimately encouraging, Everything But The Here And Now still feels restricted by its roots to benefit Happy Accidents going forward. Clearly they’re trying to break away with more active incorporation from wider sonic sources, and overall, it is working for them, but there’s a bit more effort that needs to be taken first for them to be a band that can be fully banked on in the long run. Still, this is promising, and it looks as though they’re on the right track already, and if they can keep this up, the rewards will surely come flooding in.
For fans of: Muncie Girls, Muskets, Nervus
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Everything But The Here And Now’ by Happy Accidents is released on 16th February on Alcopop! Records.