Horns of Happiness – A Sea as a Shore

Horns of Happiness
A Sea as a Shore

Horns of Happiness is coming soon to a mix tape near you – either one you create or one given to you by your most in-the-know indie hipster friend. The fuzzy space pop-rock songs on A Sea as a Shore seem custom made for inclusion in such endeavors, but they work equally as well together as one album. The group is a side/solo project by Aaron Deer of the Impossible Shapes and John Wilkes Booze and finds him testing out the waters with a variety of instruments. He is joined by Impossible Shapes bandmates Chris Barth, Jason Groth, Mark Rice, and Peter King, but the vision here appears to be largely Deer’s.

A Sea as a Shore is bound together by only the slightest threads of consistency. While most of the tracks float somewhere around dreamy, vaguely psychedelic pop territory, there are random style changing bursts of sound that lead you from one plane to another. These abrupt movements aren’t as irritating as might be expected; rather, it’s like watching the seasons change at high speed. This is true of almost all of the 15 tracks on A Sea as a Shore, including the fair number of instrumentals.

Although there are quite a few things to satisfy on this release, Horns of Happiness is at its best during a few songs where an earthy, almost folk-music vibe is reached and this is where the group is reminiscent of work by the Fruit Bats. One such song is “Of Whistling & Wine” – an acoustic guitar-led piece with softly sung lines like, “don’t look back you’ll see someone you burned right through.” The folky ambiance is continued through tracks like “Autumn Breathes East” and the instrumental number “Put Reins on My Mind” which begins with some lovely guitar work before segueing into a series of hand claps and gentle banjo plucking.

Horns of Happiness tackles each change in approach – whether subtle or abrupt – with an ease second only to breathing. The album has quite a melancholy focus, but the songs are either airy enough or pop-oriented enough that it doesn’t weigh the whole production down. A Sea as a Shore seems to be a precisely, but delicately executed exercise in opposites – one that is well worth delving into.