Everyone Make Happy, the debut LP from Shelf Life, via Lefse Records, finds an absorbing lyrical yet comforting instrumental balance. Scott Leitch (ex-Pirouette/recent drummer for Alex G) cultivates songs that gently sway with internal warmth, while placing listeners in a deeply personal, somber state.
Space-warping synths smoothly land on the surface in “The Curse,” the initial introduction to Everyone Make Happy. Those glowing synths fade to the background as the airy, easily-assimilated acoustic guitar provides shimmers of daylight onto the song’s anguished lyrical tone - “bathe in sister’s blood/talk to the ghost of my dad’s mom/about nothing but heaven and the cancer in her gut.”
Pushed by its percussion, “Mark II” delivers what appears as subtle instrumentation, penetrating beyond the surface as a tight bedroom-pop sound. What starts drearily - “wake me up, when my lungs, start to pump normally” - lifts the shades to the point of optimism. “There’s always something in the sunlight,” riding a casual, almost accidental groove along the way. The album continuously stares directly into sadness, observing a very real place of grief. In “Creature” with its road-worn, country-folk twang , Leitch addresses the questioning nature of a sickness as a somber cloud hangs overhead. “I ask myself what my Father would do/he’d fold his hands lean to belief/but the creature inside him is not inside of me.”
“Low Key Lumber Theft” forebodingly spirals forward as the last dashes of daylight fall below the horizon. The guitar crisply cuts through dusk, venturing further out of sight as it gains momentum and then coolly concludes. With a daydreaming-psych vibe, “Time Traveler” moves into a nostalgic familiar space, which although consoling - “I am meeting the past/it is just how I thought/I have found what I lost” - still cuts - “You had gone away.” An anecdotal throwback, “Double Dare” soaks into your mind with its direct lyricism and catchy melodies, a la Alex G, while “Sinking Just Right” lulls you into a submissive calm of internal self-doubt - “does everybody hate me, just a little, little, little bit” - drifting until your “sinking just right.”
This album delicately balances the weight of emotional darkness with a glimpse of the light, from outside pushing in through the cracks. - Michael Colavita