Includes a hidden bonus track.
On Stabilo’s website, the Vancouver band declare that they are “focusing on musicianship the way others might focus on hairstyles.” The boys speak the truth: the quartet’s songwriting skills and complex harmonies on Happiness & Disaster place them well above a good percentage of their pop radio contemporaries, clearly showing their preference of substance over style. The group is centered around two singers, Jesse Dryfout (who takes on the introspective songwriting role) and Christopher John, whose sweet alto vocals possess a soft lilt à la James Blunt. The pair began performing together in high school, and their seemingly effortless harmonies shine as a result of that longterm pairing.Stabilo’s musical proficiency is evident throughout this hour-long sophomore release, due in part to the disc’s highly respected producer, Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Sunny Day Real Estate.) One of the CD’s strongest tracks, “Kidding Ourselves,” would fit perfectly between Coldplay and Maroon 5 on mainstream radio, while the rockier first single “Flawed Design” showcases the lads’ clever lyrics via a track that describes the type of internal dialogue that would run through the head of an emotional manipulator. Just like life itself, Happiness & Disaster isn’t perfect–“Delivering Idiots” admittedly owes more than a few props to Radiohead’s “Creep” (right through the painfully familiar-sounding guitar solo)–but don’t let that low point throw you off. This is not intended as a singles-oriented album; it is, instead, a full-length collection of emotion and introspection set to strongly-crafted melodies, and will undoubtedly gain further respect with each listen. –Denise Sheppard
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