Once again bringing an odd assemblage of styles and genres to the table, Mad Happy are back with a sophomore effort that oozes quirkiness as well as…err…"Franken-prophetics". Paired male and female vocals, blending social commentary and more standard personal fare, are rapped, spoken, and sung atop diverse musical landscapes, often simultaneously rhythmic and melodic, that seemingly incorporate hip-hop, funk, electronica, new wave, 70s pop, and even Hasidic, reggae, jazz, and classical influences. Solid, ever-changing production and strong musicality highlight the album's 12-song, 50-minute set.
The disc's great title track, "Oozing Franken-prophetics", is punchy, choppy synth-bass-driven dance floor fare, while the more straightforward "Subway Butterflies" is equally danceable and the melancholy "Young Beautiful & Stressed" takes a more subdued, stripped-down approach to dance/electronica for one of the album's strongest moments. "Gulf Coast Heat" is a funky slice of electro-pop that blends retro and modern. "Phantasy", commenting on societal limits and demands, also delves into electro-pop, albeit a more laid back brand with an odd island feel.
Other songs are more difficult to pin down stylistically. "Shoot", with its classical opening, catchy, simplistic analog synth bass riff, and reggae-esque rhythmic play, proves one of the disc's most memorable right down to its simple "bang bang" chorus and unexpected flute interlude. "Mid July Mania", with its whimsical horns and xylophone, almost gives off a vaudeville vibe, while "Little Miss Understood" is a semi-spoken melodic number with handclaps, stand-up bass, and nice orchestration. "Shortbus Riders" is, musically, one of the album's other big standouts, built around diverse percussion and piano with grandiose orchestral moments that wouldn't necessarily sound out of place in a theatrical production. "Truckstop Honeymoon" is also noteworthy, a simple, percussive, rapped verse unexpectedly giving way to a slower, retro pop chorus for one of the disc's most nicely crafted melodic moments.
In the end, Mad Happy's Frankenprophecy proves endearingly unique and playful, an album that's rarely boring yet doesn't lose its musicality in experimentation; whose intricate production is sometimes quite bizarre yet doesn't seem particularly self-conscious. The duo's stylistic mishmash may not appeal to everyone, but, both catchy and substantial, it's a fun and relatively captivating ride.
Mad Happy website: www.madhappy.com
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