Happyness: Tiny Desk Concert If you're a fan of dark, incredibly dry, wry humor, you've just found Happyness. Watch the London trio perform three songs that enchant and lull, even as they jar you with their quirkiness.

Tiny Desk

Happyness

Happyness: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/437270284/437289803" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

If you're a fan of dark, incredibly dry, wry humor, you've just found Happyness. In 2014, I first heard the band sing these words on a stage in New York City, from the song "Montreal Rock Band Somewhere":

I'm wearing Win Butler's hair

There's a scalpless singer

With a Montreal rock band somewhere

And he's all right

With such perverse, funny imagery, Londoners Benji Compston, Jonny Allan and Ash Cooper spin tales that often fire up a cartoon question mark in my head. But at the same time, I'm grooving to their strangely jazzy pop sounds.

In their longest Tiny Desk tune, "Weird Little Birthday Girl," I'm reminded of Wilco — maybe the sound from around A Ghost Is Born, with all the long, repetitive phrases — but Happyness doesn't build its songs to a frenzy the way that band might. Instead, they enchant and lull, only snapping me out of my dream state with their constant quirkiness. Happyness' members sang all three of these songs through a palm-sized guitar amp, which made their voices that much creepier.

It's a weird little song

She's a weird little girlfriend

We don't really get along

That creepiness is endearing, though, as you'll hear in their banter as they tune and switch instruments between songs. They deserve their own musical-comedy show, honestly, and it would fall somewhere between stand-up gags and eerie calm. I'd be happy with that.

Set List

  • "Montreal Rock Band Somewhere"
  • "It's On You"
  • "Weird Little Birthday Girl"

Credits

Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Lani Milton; Assistant Producer: Elena Saavedra Buckley; photo by Morgan Walker/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Summer Walker plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 13, 2019 (Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR). Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR

Summer Walker

One week after releasing a record-shattering studio debut, the Atlanta native brings a glowing R&B set to the Tiny Desk.

Taylor Swift performs during a Tiny Desk concert on Oct. 10, 2019. (Bob Boilen/NPR) Bob Boilen/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Bob Boilen/NPR

Taylor Swift

As she settled in for this stripped-down set, Taylor Swift looked out over the office. "I just decided to take this as an opportunity to show you guys how the songs sounded when I first wrote them."

Brittany Howard plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR). Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR

Brittany Howard

The Alabama Shakes singer and guitarist brought an eight-piece backing band to the Tiny Desk for a set of deeply personal and affecting songs.

Charly Bliss plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Bob Boilen/NPR). Bob Boilen/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Bob Boilen/NPR

Charly Bliss

The vibrancy of the band can feel childlike and candy-coated. But the group's songs are more about the pain of entering adulthood and leaving some of that sweetness behind.

Sharon Van Etten performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Sept. 23, 2019. (Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Sharon Van Etten

Nearly a decade after her first appearance at the Tiny Desk, Sharon Van Etten returns with a full band and a bigger, bolder sound.

Molly Sarlé plays a Tiny Desk Concert. Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Molly Sarlé

After performing at the Tiny Desk as one third of the group Mountain Man, Molly Sarlé returns for a soul-stirring solo performance.

The Jonas Brothers play a Tiny Desk Concert on August 15, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Jonas Brothers

The brothers and their backing band gave a playful performance of three tracks from their latest album, Happiness Begins.

Josh Ritter (center) performs with Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell at a Tiny Desk Concert on Aug. 27, 2019. (Emily Bogle/NPR) Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Josh Ritter With Amanda Shires And Jason Isbell

In his second visit to the Tiny Desk, Josh Ritter had America on his mind. "We all have to fight against this notion that we're not all human beings."

Ari Lennox plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Ben de la Cruz/NPR). Ben de la Cruz/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ben de la Cruz/NPR

Ari Lennox

The R&B singer performed songs from her debut full-length, Shea Butter Baby.

Rosanne Cash plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Rosanne Cash

Roseanne Cash has been making great records for forty years, but she's never played or written better music than she's doing right now.

Back To Top