Almost HappyBy Akshay Patil
May 7, 2002
The new album from K’s Choice is a delightful musical romp through the amazing talent possessed by the Belgian band. While lacking some of the emotion and punch of previous albums, Almost Happy is full of soul-searching and bitter love songs, all set to soothing melodies and the sweet voice of lead singer Sarah Bettens.
For fans, Almost Happy may be best marked as the album that finally contains the studio version of the title track. Knowing it well as a live song, we finally are able to hear a fully polished version of the song that does not fail to please.
“Almost Happy” sets the tone of the album as a softer production. Previous albums included such stand-outs as “Everything For Free” and “Not an Addict” with harder guitar tracks and emphasis on issues other than the all-too-common love song. “Almost Happy,” on the other hand, embraces a theme of bitter love which permeates the tracks and manifests itself in such titles as “Busy,” “Almost Happy,” and “Tired.”
The songs of Almost Happy form a cohesive album, which is refreshing in a time when emphasis seems to be placed more on singles than on albums. That being said, the album doesn’t have any real direction. It serves as an exploration of the emotions that surround and envelop us at the end of a relationship, but there is no ending message, no moral or philosophical conclusion to the adventure we embark on with the band. The closest we get to such an ending is a final bonus song in the last track called “Already There.” Here we hear a quiet tribute to a dead loved one, admitting all things come to an end.
The album is deceptive; at first listen it seems like an album without singles. No songs truly stand out on their own to merit their own personal listening. Slowly one comes to realize this is because while all the songs are capable of existing in solitude, they find additional strength in the context of the album. They all fall well into the style of K’s Choice; they are all unique tracks, but share many similar stylistic elements and certain sounds.
One of the kickers for Almost Happy is that it comes with a second CD of live material, originally a separate album released in Europe and entitled Live. The live material is nothing spectacular, but it is an appreciable bonus. Many of the band’s earlier hits are performed on the second CD, making the package a plausible starting place for the beginning fan.
Almost Happy won’t shock you. It won’t give you a new outlook on life. But as the newest release for a band making its way up the ladders of musical success, one could really not ask for more. The music is not only abundant, but solid as well. You could do much worse with your time and your money.