I sat and listened to this album over a cup of coffee. While this isn’t the sort of album you sit and muse over with a cup of coffee, I bring it up because when the cup was empty the album was over. It’s barely twenty minutes long but every single song is packed with energy, urgency and a visceral sound that it’s lazy to call ‘punk’. Happy Birthday is not three chords and a spit in the face. Yet it is definitely a punk album. What is punk? Look, just shut up and listen to this. Her Parents haven’t been around long but their members are longstanding members of other bands who espoused a similar ethos; Dananananackroyd, Stairs to Korea and Internet Forever all contribute persons. Last year in August they recorded, released and toured their first album Physical Release which was endorsed by hipster favourite Pitchfork Media. However, for all the fun made, anything endorsed by them is generally of a certain quality and Her Parents are no exception.
Happy Birthday was recorded in one session with no instrumental overdubs, as was their first album. Song titles include Why Are You Hitting Yourself, Why Don’t You Just Fuck Off and my personal favourite, Cunt Dinosaurs. At first glance there seems to be a danger of the album veering towards the infantile in its attempt to stick a snotty two fingers up at the mainstream, but it happily avoids this by being extremely good fun and deceptively broad in its appeal. While I can envision sweaty venues full of barely 18+ audiences ‘jumping around’ and ‘punching things for no more than 90 seconds at a time’ (the band’s mission statement as put forth by bassist Sean Clothier), I think there will be more than a handful of sweaty (and possibly very out of breath) adults in their mid-to-late twenties and thirties. Such is the universal call of punk. Everyone is equal in their sweaty desire to jump around and punch things.
There’s not a lot of music to talk about what with only twelve tracks, none of which run over 90 seconds. As mentioned at the beginning of this ‘review’ (what is a review?), however, in the case of Happy Birthday it is definitely quality over quantity. The songs are fast with duelling guitars a kick ass bass line and snarling vocals barking out lines about the inability to catch them because they live in trees as well as something about hollowing out a horse. That same song about living in a tree starts by calling someone out for having a racist mum and being a total baby and inviting them to come and have a go. It’s a stop-start affair with a bit of cock rock thrown in for good measure. It’s probably one of my favourite songs on the album because I can sort of sing along after the third play through. Then it’s straight into Cunt Dinosaurs which is as fast and furious as the rest of the album. Lead single, Why Don’t You Just Fuck Off doesn’t ask a question. It’s part statement, part rhetorical question. Is that even possible? Who cares, this is punk. Anyway, it starts with a meaty little bass riff before launching into a full throated goading before (presumably) throwing that rhetorical statement around. It all gets a bit widdly guitar and then very chaotic before that bass riff comes back and singer Christopher Alcxxk announces that he’s "declaring a war on bellends" and then it just ends.
Happy Birthday is rowdy punk fun done extremely well. Don’t expect longevity from the tunes; hopefully the band will stick around a bit longer as they are right good and this album is pretty great.
Happy Birthday by Her Parents is out on 13th May via Alcopop!