Van She - Idea of Happiness
If there's one thing Australia deserves to be known for as much as its prowess in cricket and its ability to avoid worldwide recessions, it's the fact that its citizens know their way around some brilliant electro-pop records. Cut Copy, The Presets and PNAU say hi, by the way. We can now add Van She to this prestigious list. It's been almost four years since their debut was released, and the new record absolutely blows that one out of the water. Clearly, that gap has made quite a difference; whereas V was a mixed bag that only ever showed tantalising glimpses of their true potential, its follow-up, Idea of Happiness is the full package, a striding, confident album that sees the quartet graduate to the big leagues.
The stunning opening salvo is comprised of three top-notch pop song; singles 'Jamaica' and 'Idea of Happiness' itself come either side of the tropically-influenced (and therefore aptly-titled) 'Calypso'. The Van She of 2012 waste no time in setting out their stall, and if the listener's not completely won over by the time fourth track 'Sarah' begins, they should honestly check if they still have a pulse, because music with hooks this big is just made for dancing (or, if one can't dance, moving about enthusiastically) to. The momentum from such a strong start is often difficult to maintain, something of which the group are surely acutely aware, but they do it with ease this time around. The two-part instrumental 'Radio Waves' proves once again that they aren't afraid to take risks, only this time they reap the rewards instead of stumbling.
The album reaches its peak with the almost effortless brilliance of 'Beat of the Drum'; there is a slight Friendly Fires vibe to that song, and the comparisons don't end there. Idea of Happiness is Van She's Pala: a stunning pop album that finds them on top form, chucking out cast-iron hits like nobody's business. It looks like the break they took did them an almost incalculable amount of good, but they sum it up best with the title of the album's closing track: 'We Move On'. V found the band unable to fully live up to the early promise they displayed, falling into the trap that countless other hyped bands have with their debut albums; in stark contrast, their new record is everything they knew they could become. To call Idea of Happiness a mere step up would be to do it a massive disservice; from start to finish, it is sublime.