This is a review of "Happy Birthday EP" recorded by Rhode Island. The review was written by Ben Daure in 2005.
The first thing I noticed when this CD started playing was that … it was amazing! I’m not just saying that to avoid being harsh to the band (which I have noticed happens too much), this EP is truly incredible. I know you probably hear this a lot, but it actually sounds extremely original. The EP gives off a Beatles-type feel, with acoustic guitar work similar to Nikoli, but it seems to flow together just that little bit better.
Rhode Island have put together a truly fantastic EP, the tracks are well produced (as is the very nice packaging) and it’s very obvious they have spent a lot of time making these songs sound exactly how they want them to. I love the way the drums are a major part of this CD and that there is no set beat on any one of their tracks. The drums actually follow the song in every way possible which is a rarity nowadays, they’re not just chorus drums-verse drums-chorus drums etc.
The EP itself is very relaxed as the comment at the tail of “Happy Birthday” describes: “I honestly think you want to sit down calmly and take a stress pill and think things over”. Also Rhode Island haven’t overdone it with the bass. They deliver a colossal guitar melody and just simply give it that extra edge with some very gentle syncopated bass, and it works - so why not?
“Big Two-Hearted River” is probably the most upbeat of the 4 tracks on this EP. With its immediate anthem-like melody and catchy chorus this is a perfect start to the album. Peaking with the very nice improvised acoustic solo toward the end.
“With Love & Squalor” I would say is the most emotional track on the album. Beginning with a Radiohead-like tune and quickly morphing into a more aggressive yet controlled strumming pattern (i.e. not going and trying to strum as fast a possible to show emotion). With added antiques here and there and very dynamic drumbeats this track definitely says “this is my heart pouring”.
As “Happy Birthday” commences it is quite clear now that Rhode Island have tried to create something different on each track (and succeeded might I add). You can really tell this by the time you get to this track which has to be, by far, my favourite song on the EP. It begins almost like a cross between one of Bob Marley’s later releases and Hawaiian music, but steadily generates into a Beatles-like melody. Best song in my opinion.
Finally onto “Ladybird”, without a doubt this is the most relaxed track on the album. The articulated melody combined with fast, chirpy lyrics actually makes you think of a ladybird flying over summer fields (and a happy one at that so it’s all good). I think that it could be a bit longer as it was extremely enjoyable and I didn’t really want it to stop. I guess it’s harder to get bored of then (not that that will happen at all with this EP).
All in all this has to be the best EP that I have been sent so far and it is going to take an awful lot to top it, as it’s not far off perfect. Rhode Island have a unique style and wide array of musical talents that will get them far.
If this music was a person it would be: the nicest person you have ever met. Who gives so much to others yet takes so little. Who is never mean and always happy.