Said to explore the same aural territory as Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai, Badman boss Dylan Mageirek's solo debut falls a little short, just by a hair.
I liked Dylan Magierek before I even heard this record. As founder of Badman, he was the man who green-lighted Weinland's soul wrenching La Lamentor. That particular record hit me deep, so I owe him one. However, even the appearance of select Weinland members can't drag Dylan's debut album as Misc. to the next level. Happiness Is Easy is about half instrumental, claiming to explore the same aural territory as Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai but falling a little short (not by much, mind you, just enough that it's noticeable). There isn't quite enough character overall, either sonically or lyrically, to make it not so much memorable as unforgettable in this crowded indie rock landscape.
The vocals of poet Daniel Ahearn often hurt more than they help, while dulcet tones of Laura Nordman-Sabia up the ante of the droning, drum machine led "Korea Vs. Japan" to make it a mixtape worthy cut. The Adam Shearer assisted "I Am Trying to Leave You" instrumental is a clear highlight as well, with its touchingly bittersweet violin, plodding drum beat, and layers of acoustic and electric guitar. It's a fine effort overall, but there is clear room for improvement.