Van She – Idea of Happiness

Sydney locals Van She are a different breed to most on the Australian music scene. After the success of their debut album V back in 2008, the group waited a good four years to give us album number two: Idea of Happiness. So, how does the band’s second release stack up?

Well, Van She have come back with a very interesting sound – it’s kind of like they’ve attempted to make modern pop music with equipment from the disco revival era. “I feel like there’s nothing left to do but dance,” lead singer Matt Van Schie smoothly sings in his dreamy, ever-so-cool way in Calypso, and the rest of the band follows suit with an amalgamation of ‘80s computer beeps.

The single Jamaica is a bit more conservative than some of the other tracks, but that works in its favour as a digital xylophone strikes just the right beat throughout a cheerfully catchy chorus. After a terrific keyboard lead-in that hits all the right notes, Sarah proves to be another great song that is irresistibly fun to sing along to. While it’s probably a bit too sparse in some respects, it’s still a terrific antidote to the multi-layered self titled track Idea of Happiness. Sarah is followed by an instrumental called Radio Waves, which (after a beautifully innocent intro) evokes the potent feeling of spinning out of control – like a 3am freak-out on a dark, hostile dancefloor.

There will inevitably be people who can’t grasp the chilled out electro-pop of Van She, but it’s not the bops and beeps that prove inaccessible. In fact, the Achilles heel of this album lies in its songwriting. You’re My Rescue is paint by numbers pop with an acoustic guitar, as are the lyrics in Tears and the very drab We Move On. However, the instrumental Coconuts is arguably the weakest of the bunch.

While Idea of Happiness not perfect as an album, but one song – Beat of the Drum – epitomizes the experience of the release succinctly. Avoiding complex sounds, the track becomes exactly what the listener needs: an oddly relaxing oasis that leaves an easy smile on even the most weary of faces. It won’t transform your life, but it’ll take you somewhere sunny for a little while.