Label: Dearstereofan Release date: 19/04/10 Link: Myspace Nowadays in order to make a great sounding record you need a studio stuffed with top end MacBook Pros tooled up to the max with software synthesizers and samplers. Without Pro Tools and Autotune, you might as well be musically dead, right? Wrong. Hooray! For Happiness is the debut album from bedroom studio aficionados Jamie Cameron & Luke Hayden aka The Last Dinosaur, who have thrown technology to the wind and have instead snuggled up with their old school 16 track recorder to produce a charming homemade masterpiece. Their sound is delicate yet complex, replete with tender piano melodies, wistful strings and acoustic hooks, overlaid with barely whispered vocals and the occasional rain shower. Taking over a year and a half to complete, they confess to having recorded many of the tracks at home late at night, often writing the songs as they were laid down, which manifests itself in an aural intimacy and introspection rarely heard on record these days, yet the album also maintains a constant sense of space and airiness. Some of what we hear is improvised and captured on first take which adds a spontaneous fluidity to the record and is also undeniably impressive in terms of musicianship. Messers Cameron and Hayden are talented chaps indeed. Album opener ‘Every Second Is A Second Chance’ starts with a slow building crescendo, akin to an orchestra tuning up before the main performance, gradually introducing a tribal drum beat, crashing cymbals and a choral loop until we are eventually thrown over the precipice into an Arcade Fire-esque post-rock melee of strings, woodwind, fuzzy keys and ethereal chanting vocals. An aural taster of what’s to come. ‘Fool’ is a vocal led slice of acoustic perfection, with a beautiful piano melody and the breathy vocal ‘I am a fool for you’ repeated over and over, transforming halfway into a glorious string heavy waltz. ‘Gusts Of Wind…’ is a classical piano composition that is more film score than pop record and along with stunningly eerie album closer ‘The Song Playing At The End Of The Film Of My Life’ writing a future film score is clearly not out of the realms of possibility for Cameron and Hayden. ‘Maps’ is a perfect acoustic ballad straight from the heart, clearly written for someone in particular, which had me hitting the repeat button from the first listen. I could put this down to me being a soppy girl, but I think that the undeniable beauty of banjo and strings together with the intimacy of the lyrics would have even the most cynical of men going all misty eyed. It may not be the most original or innovative track on the album, but it is nonetheless a truly lovely moment. And so the record unfolds – it’s swoops and dives through leftfield folk whimsy (I Found My Voice), experimental soundscapes (The Greatest Film Never Made) and eerily epic instrumentals (The Song Playing At The End of The Film Of My Life). It shouts and whispers in equal measure. This album is not easy to define in terms of influence – it is at times Sufjan Stevens, at others Broken Social Scene. Bon Iver’s heartwrenchingly honest and whisper-in-your-ear vocal is channelled in the beautifully delicate ‘Be That Boy’. Sigur Ros are lurking in there somewhere too. That’s not to say that ‘Hooray! For Happiness’ is derivative. In truth it is quite the opposite – it is fresh and original yet comfortingly reminiscent of what has gone before. This album has certainly been a labour of love for The Last Dinosaur. They at no point stray from the ethic of making honest, homemade music on their own terms and it is this, alongside their enviable musical talent - both as musicians and songwriters - that make Hooray! For Happiness one of the most refreshing, original and gratifying records of the year. Soul food for the head and the heart. Photobucket