Review: Tor – Too Happy

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Label: Truthseeker Music

There’s something very English about masking your misery with jokes; finding the absurd in the grim, the mirth in the miserable, the humour in the gallows. On Too Happy, three-piece Tor seem to go all-in on such an idea, with their post-rock being both utterly miserable, but also filled with a twisted sense of humour. Heavily reminiscent of the likes of Slint, this is an album for when you’re at your lowest – so far down in the pits of despair that it begins to seem absurd just how miserable you are. It’s an album that is, by turns, highly uncomfortable and highly amusing, and yet always feels sincere and interesting.

Though it’s split up in to seven tracks, most of Too Happy flows along like one continuous song, with only subtle shifts in tone or slight pauses indicating when one song stops and another begins. This makes it an album that is easy to lose yourself in, albeit in the right atmosphere – this is very much an album for late-night solitude, sat on your own, headphones on, trying your best to keep it together.

Given that Tor’s post-rock tends towards the sparse, where the pauses are drawn-out notes are every bit as important as what is actually played, it means that the vocals and lyrics really come to the fore. They are mostly sung-spoken, delivered in a deadpan manner that makes their statements hit all the harder. Each song contains a wealth of lyrics that are worthy of highlighting, though there are real some stand-out moments, such as the desperate reptitions of “I couldn’t find my rhythm” during ‘I’m a Goth’, or the sucker-punch that closes ‘Boring’ – “You want to see a grown man cry? Well so do I / But we can’t both go first”.

No doubt, the thin line between sincerity and irreverence that Too Happy walks is likely to mean that some listeners won’t be able to get in to the album – though surely this is intentional. Too Happy feels like an album that, no matter its actual subject matter, is ultimately about challenging your core beliefs, casting down your idols, and asking you to become a better person. It’s not a comfortable journey or listen, and it is definitely an album that is heavy in an emotional sense rather than a musical one – but when it connects with you, it hits hard, and even if it takes a few spins to really appreciate what Tor are trying to do, the pay-off makes it worth the time and effort.

Too Happy is due for release on 25 May 2018, and can be pre-ordered on vinyl via Truthseeker Music, and digitally via Bandcamp.

 

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