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Album Review: Van She - Idea Of Happiness

24 August 2012 | 4:04 pm | Carley Hall

Van She certainly know how to write agreeable melodies for the ears and pump out gratifying beats for the feet.

The second album: it's a tricky path to navigate sometimes, particularly if it has to emerge from the shadows of a debut whose accolades and intense admiration only add to its expected comparison and dissection. It's album number two for Sydney four-piece electro outfit Van She, but while it may be a tough ask to up the ante from 2008's much-loved V, the near four-year break brings us Idea Of Happiness, another slick production with tropical fun galore.

The opening title-track is a good indication they're sticking to a formula that's clearly worked a treat previously – it's all staggering synths, catchy beats and Nicholas Routledge's mid-range, easy vocal. That's by no means a bad thing. Singles Calypso and Jamaica execute a fine balance of Routledge's vocals ringing true without sounding out of place amongst the electro layers in these clean tracks buzzing with spacey synths, Caribbean percussion and sonic pops. Sarah could be this album's more production-heavy answer to V's Kelly, with its crisp offbeat crunchy synths and double-tracked vocals, qualities also inherent in the more upbeat Tears, underlining Routledge's articulated vocals, but they're largely unaffected here and it's a pleasing juxtaposition.

Van She certainly know how to write agreeable melodies for the ears and pump out gratifying beats for the feet. They create interest with countless layers of sound that duck, swerve and leap over and in between vocals and rhythmic lines, as in The Beat Of The Drum and We Move On. It's easy to comprehend what their Idea Of Happiness is – cocktails on the beach – and while the album is as likeable as that premise, elements of surprise and progression are lacking.