Getting to hear albums before they’ve been released is a massive perk of reviewing music for a living, but after a little while the exhilaration of knowing you’re the proud owner of something novel wears off.
It’s rare these days that I hear an album and am genuinely excited for everyone else to hear it, but every once in a while I hear something incredible, something ground-breaking, something that’s excruciating to keep to myself until the release date.
Ultraviolet Animals by Happy Daggers is one of the most agonising secrets I’ve ever had to keep. To master a pop song without it sounding recycled or dull is hard enough, but to master an entire pop album – now that’s near on impossible.
A record that makes you wish it were possible for albums to have encores, Ultraviolet Animals is a pure groove machine; every funk beat and every driving melody working mind-blowingly well. Weighing in at a digestible ten tracks the album isn’t a heavy listen, but it’s not shallow either. It’s got all the depth you need for it to feel substantial, songs like Aurora oozing pure soul, whilst still maintaining its status as a light-hearted pop record through tracks like Something New and Money.
Not forgetting it’s an easy acquaintance for the radio, and I say acquaintance because to lump it into the ‘radio-friendly’ category doesn’t feel quite right. This album was meant to be played on the radio, but not made to be played on the radio. Filled to the brim with soul, passion and the ability to make you move, it’s unthinkable that something this good can be so accessible, but it just is.
I like to listen to an album a few times over before sitting down to review it, the first listen never really as reliable as the second or third. Writing this, I’m on my fifth. It’s exciting, thrilling even, to want to listen to an album over and over again, to have that sense of urgency of ‘I must listen to this again, and I must listen to it now!’.
Happy Daggers have done just that, creating an album that feels familiar yet not recycled, using sounds we all know and love but in a refreshing way. The closest you can get to a modern-day Atomic Dog, Ultraviolet Animals is authentically funky, and easily one of the most exhilarating pop records of this year.