In the three years since The Happy Hollows’ full-length debut, the spectacular Spells, the band has gone through a number of changes. They’re on their third drummer, lead singer Sarah Negahdari launched a solo project and toured with the Silversun Pickups as a substitute bass player, and most significantly, bassist Charlie Mahoney stepped up as a co-composer on the songs that make up the band’s second album, Amethyst.
While Spells very overtly showcased the D.C. punk-inspired rhythm section of Charlie Mahoney and original drummer Chris Hernandez, Amethyst is another animal entirely. Written in between drummers, the songs were composed over Mahoney’s synth loops, giving the album much more of a new wave feel and consistent, clockwork rhythms.
As striking a contrast as this new sound is from the first incarnation of the Happy Hollows, one thing is still for sure: Sarah Negahdari is as quirky, bubbly and mystically enchanting as she’s ever been. She still exhibits a wildly uninhibited imagination that is much more Bay Area than the band’s adopted hometown of Los Angeles. She still smiles, yearns and cries through her songs so strongly that you can nearly see her as you listen. “Secret,” in particular, is the most lovelorn Happy Hollows song yet, and it’s teeming with ear-grabbing vocal harmonies and a Cure-like picked guitar pattern that might as well be designed for radio play.
With other strong tunes like “Endless” and “Galaxies” anchoring the record from the start, and with a concise ten-song running order, Amethyst zooms in and out with might and musical muscle, sporting an all-killer-no-filler approach that improves upon their idiosyncratic fourteen-track debut. Sarah, too, is exercising greater control as a vocalist, sounding less like a ball of nervous energy and more like a confident, self-assured singer who is firmly in control and knows exactly what she wants. And what she wants is love – for all of us. If you don’t hear it right away, keep listening. You’ll feel it in time.