London-based lo-fi grunge/alternative project The Happy Pill Academy recently released the concept album, Postcards to and from a Doomed Civilization.
The Happy Pill Academy, aka Matthew Guy Ibbs, explains, “‘POSTCARDS TO AND FROM A DOOMED CIVILISATION’ is a life-affirming yet soul-destroying album about a robot who goes on holiday. From a tearful farewell to disappointing sight-seeing trips, kidnapping attempts, and home again(?); our intrepid mechanical protagonist is ever hopeful that they will find meaning in a meaningless existence.”
Appearing along with Ibbs (vocal, guitar, ukulele, bass, percussion) on the album is Jef Leeson (keyboards). The album was produced by Ibbs, James Humphry, and Lance Turner.
Encompassing nine tracks, highlights on the album include “A Transient Dot in my Otherwise Perfect Sky,” which blends sparkling piano colors and a tight sidestick-popping beat with layers of velvety, melodic vocals.
The Happy Pill Academy’s cover of Nirvana’s “All Apologies” delivers a Beatles-esque take on the song, replacing grunge-laced guitars with gleaming folk flavors. “Violent Runtime” pushes out raw post-punk guitars emanating luminous rays of sound as Ibbs’ distant voice delivers muted tones.
“Aachen Deere Ftp (Inky Monstrosity) rolls out on glistening leitmotifs at once strident and vaguely dissonant. The final track, “A Machine for Empathy” opens on light acoustic guitar strumming topped by melancholic vocals, dreamy and haunting.
Lo-fi grunge or perhaps post-grunge is more accurate, is a difficult genre to get a handle on. As Music News’ Jon C. Ireson says, “Technically, Creed, nu-metal, and Nickleback were ‘post-grunge.’” Ibbs’ approach to the genre is authentic – on one level even grungier than Nirvana, while on another level full of hints of jangle-pop and dream-pop savors.
On Postcards to and from a Doomed Civilization, The Happy Pill Academy delivers an attention-grabbing musical variant.