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Tom Slatter - Happy People album review

Smile, damn you, or suffer the consequences!

Tom Slatter - Happy People album artwork

Despite a title promising cheery fun within, Tom Slatter’s Happy People seems to be a concept album about a dystopian society where happiness is not encouraged so much as it is ruthlessly imposed by the authorities.

A Name In A File suggests Slatter has absorbed Pink Floyd’s The Wall on a cellular level, although his vocals may provide a stumbling block for newcomers to his output. He has a high, slightly tremulous voice without much tonal depth. His singing tends to be strongest when he adds some gusto to his delivery in Even Then We’re Scared, but sounds weakest when he pushes into his upper register or when left exposed in the quiet passages. The ghost of Steven Wilson prowls the album and anyone who finds solace in Wilson’s gloomiest moments – looking at you, Hand. Cannot. Erase. – will find a kindred spirit here in the sputtering Tracking Signals and the overall mood of melancholia. There’s plenty of good playing, including a tasty guitar solo in Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, and All Of The Dark stomps briskly along towards the album’s climactic finish. If you can embrace Slatter’s vocals, there’s enjoyment to be had in his steampunk prog visions.

After starting his writing career covering the unforgiving world of MMA, David moved into music journalism at Rhythm magazine, interviewing legends of the drum kit including Ginger Baker and Neil Peart. A regular contributor to Prog, he’s written for Metal Hammer, The Blues, Country Music Magazine and more. The author of Chasing Dragons: An Introduction To The Martial Arts Film, David shares his thoughts on kung fu movies in essays and videos for 88 Films, Arrow Films, and Eureka Entertainment. He firmly believes Steely Dan’s Reelin’ In The Years is the tuniest tune ever tuned.