Martha 3:14 recounts something about the impossibility of love for another unless one understands and accepts an original love, that is, love sent from above through the death and life of God’s son, JC. But if one doesn’t accept the original love, the Bible makes you believe that you’ll never fully have the capacity to love another– a sweetheart, friend or even one’s true love. What a dilemma.
As zany a logic, two places I can think of where this is actually still gospel is rural America and, the southwest coast of Norway. Happy Dagger certainly aren’t unfamiliar with it, either. This problematic in extracting a relationship between Jesus, love and booze remains at least subconsciously expressed throughout their album “Songs of Shame”, one exemplary track “Good Morning Jesus” reads: “Good morning Jesus / It would be nice to hear from you again… / Good morning Jesus / Heart’s been lonely since the day you went away / Good morning Jesus / Waiting for this solitude to end…”
Our wonderful bastards of Christian-upbringing thus, serve what’s to be expected– rifts of melodies and interludes decrying sober, real-life living. Whether or not it’s in half-seriousness, as many of the tracks on this album aren’t remotely songs– each part still feels in earnest or goodwill. When mother’s milk has soured and you’re no longer buried in the womb of innocence, what do you do? Get drunk. But if you keep with such low expectations (since, after all, a life of any expectation would be what Happy Dagger moans against) then you blur the lines of sincerity, which makes this band most vulnerable.
A raging bluster of songs make you bury your head in disbelief, others give you a warmth and sympathy for all that is related to teenage Christian delinquency. The recording stands out beautifully—raw, inconsistent, and at differing volumes– but captures the crude, crooners’ choir-ing, as on the track, “Sunk that Ship”. The tracks I most dislike are too reminiscent to already familiar melodies— “2012″ too much like Primal Scream’s “Accelerator” or a Royal Trux tune; “Dead & Broke”, like a Woven Hand parody; “Regrets & Cigarettes”, lyrically very cliched. But again, influence by solid song writers ain’t necessarily bad– I think “Marilyn” in all its Chokebore resonances is one of the strongest tracks. “Broken Memories”, a simple yet catchy refrain, probably their VG Lista pop single, should they ever. Let’s pray they do.
Part of the mixed feeling is also that these loveable ruffians will never exceed Oslo city limits. But the record itself raises some interesting questions— I just can’t help but wonder who the girl is that they seem to have left behind, if the leaving behind is part of the love, if love as impossibility is material for yet more drunken anthems, and I wonder should any of these boys manage to find that “one”, they’d pack up and call it quits. For the time being it seems too fun to let misery outta the plan. Yet more glorified stars in the hating God/love club. If it’s Nick Cave singing it though, that’s one thing; when it’s just our local alcoholics, I wonder if its short-sightedness and slightly juvenile melodrama… Which for of course these days, there is no shortage of love.