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Applecraft - The Happiest Man Alive

  by Olga Sladeckova

published: 28 / 1 / 2004

Applecraft - The Happiest Man Alive
Label: Ochre
Format: CD


"Unpredictable" and experimental second album from Lupine Howl offshoot project, Applecraft, which takes in elements of both punk and psychedelia

Applecraft are a 3 piece band consisting of Mike Mooney (Lupine Howl, ex-Spiritualized / Julian Cope), Don Mandarin and Jonny Mattock (Lupine Howl). ‘The Happiest Man Alive’ is the band’s second album after ‘The Shining City On The Hill’ which earned many favourable reviews. The band’s experience and its individual members long term involvement in music stands out on this record, The opening track ‘Always In My House’ is, considering the band’s music references, surprisingly gentle and quiet. It limits itself to modest guitar strums and a little bit of flute towards the end of the song. Don’s voice remains somewhere between whispering and quiet singing. The album unwraps itself as it goes on. ‘Wigan Forever’ handles many sound effects which shoot through the core guitars and drums. Despite the positive title of the album, the music is very often dark and fatal. On ‘The Benefactor’ Don’s voice dominates the music and has the same sort of strong and dark charisma which you would find in Lou Reed’s voice. The music in the background is like a cut out from a play about death. While the following song ‘The Green Green Gown’ builds up further this tragic feel, ‘Jack Me’ switches to a much lighter and more positive mood. ‘Asthma’ is a psychedelic number full of flashing sounds. The lyrics are impossible to understand and the band use them as another instrument. Towards the end of the album the music builds up assertively using edgy and raw guitars on ‘U.S. Centurion’ and vibrating sounds effect on ‘Contact High’. The latter track is lead by various instruments that glide one into another, which keep the song in sharp focus right until the end. The closing song ‘G-Kings Awakening’ starts off mysteriously with Don subduedly singing his lyrics against music with no real tune. Then the music explodes with energy and develops a fast rhythm. ‘The Happiest Man Alive’ is a very unpredictable album which serves to its own good. It’s also very rich in sounds so you can discover something new and fresh every time you listen to it, but not so much so that you will become lost. It is an album that will only be as complicated as you want it to be.

Track Listing:-
1 Always In My House
2 Anny
3 Wigan Forever
4 The Benefactor
5 The Green Green Gown
6 Jack Me
7 Summer Marches
8 Asthma
9 U.S. Centurion
10 Contact High
11 G-Kings Awakening

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Interview (2004)
Applecraft - Interview
The project of Lupine Howl guitarist Mike Mooney and Don Mandarin singer Richard Beale, Applecraft recently released their second album, ‘The Happiest Man Alive’. Olga Sladeckova chats to them about it at a gig in Northhampton

live reviews

Northampton, 28/2/2004
Applecraft - Northampton, 28/2/2004
In Northampton, Olga Sladeckova watches Lupine Howl offshoot Lupine Howl work their way through a fiery, but seductive set

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