Available on: Not Not Fun LP
Will Happiness Find Me? is an apt title for Maria Minerva’s third album. Not seemingly pursuing a distinct thought to a conclusion, it is instead a collection of reflections, cannily grouped, with no particular answers.
Making for an engaging, open-ended listen, the record’s strength is in its melding of quite disparate elements unravelling, a similar cosmic-bedroom-production roughness as found in productions by Ital. Whether intentional or not, there also appears to be quite a strong vein of ’90s influence running through it: ‘Sweet Synergy’s ‘worldy’ beat, crammed against thick layers of dirty sub bass, keyboard harmonies and hip hop horn stabs (the same used in Daft Punk’s ‘Da Funk’); ‘Never Give Up’s house/speed garage-like vocal sample; ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Discovered’s almost Moloko-like approach to folk disco, and many other fragments among the constantly shifting songs on offer.
Unfortunately, the lo-fi texture of the album as a whole is difficult to ignore. A whole shelf of high register potential is left largely untouched as a certain homogeny of EQ is applied across the majority of Will Happiness Find Me?’s material, resulting in something quite dampened and demo-like. Fortunately this is not through application of a particular effect across master channels – there is definitely a mixture of, and conscious balance between fidelities and timbres, but they seem quite supressed (whether through technical limitations, a conscious decision, or both).
When things jump out from this it is a pleasant surprise, but such moments don’t happen as much as would benefit the record in its entirety. As with d’Eon’s progression from 4-track lo-fi to studio-mixed definition between Palinopsia and LP, it could be good if Minerva were to try her hand at a more varied, higher-fidelity total sound to further define the grittier and cleaner elements she pairs against each other. Possessing all of the pop loopiness of Broadcast, Dino Felipe and Tujiko Nuriko, Maria Minerva is on to a good thing that would benefit from some more clarity.
Minerva’s voice doesn’t really need to be present all the time either. ‘Coming Of Age’ is testament to her imagination, progressing unexpectedly and haphazardly, but her delivery – sliding all over the place as it does – doesn’t quite nail the eccentricity-to-accuracy ratio, which is a shame.
Where she does manage this, however, it works a treat. Following track ‘Perpetual Motion Machine’ coyly intones distorted vox within spiralling layers of phasing mid-frequency guitar-like loops and low-mid, glassy squarewaves, an unexpected New Jersey garage-like bassline entering just before the end. ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ also particularly suits Minerva’s voice and attitude, a squashed lover’s rock number in the same vein as LA Vampires Go Ital’s excellent ‘Streetwise’ EP. Album finale ‘The Star’ – a lovely, too-cool-to-give-a-fuck sing-song of an original song over an infectious loop from ‘Mr Sandman’ – also shows an admirable approach to subversive, often impishly humorous writing.
It acts as a fitting end to a particularly odd journey that, while not always successful or fully-formed, should not be judged for it. Will Happiness Find Me? is a fitful, thought-provoking listen.3.5