Happy Meals (H A P P Y M E A L S) is the guise of Glasgow duo Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook and what their debut release Apéro, out on Night School Records, differs with their kid targeting meal namesake is that Apéro provides all the fun and colour without any nastiness.
From first listen the organic natural vibe stands out to the listener, distinguishing Happy Meals from a majority of lo-fi electronic acts, whose identities often feel too contrived to have any soul.
Apéro was recorded at Green Door Studio in Glasgow, which has been the starting point for Golden Teacher, The Cosmic Dead, and now Happy Meals over the last year, the all-analogue studio lends itself well, blending with the vintage synth tones used by the couple.
Cook who also runs Glasgow label Instructional Media and performs with The Cosmic Dead is renowned for his understandings of gear.
Despite him being Vintage Synth Explorer come to life, the record is no mere modulating pulse demo, the variety of sounds are used to great effect on every song, with individual tunes stand out sonically over the six tracks of the thirty-minute run time.
Happy Meals have more variety in synthesisers and less reliance on falling back to guitar lines that the brilliant Pineal Soup tape often did, also by Cook under the name Mother Ganga.
However, it is the vocals of Rodden that gives the songs their greater sense of fun, singing a mix of French and English throughout, a strong collective personality emerges, acting as a dialogue between two partners.
Track one ‘Crystal Salutation’ through ‘Electronic Disco’ and ‘Altered Images’ has a smooth disco feel similar to Glass Candy and other releases from the Italians Do It Better label.
That takes the listen up to the flip, side two contrasts with ‘Visions of Utopia’ and ‘Le Voyage’ delivering harsher glitchier arrangements.
The release has already been racking up a number rave reviews, who rightly so are making comparisons to the Peaking Lights and Tom Tom Club.
These do stand up, however the nature of these recordings lends Happy Meals an extra sense of naïveté that reinforces the narrative of the LP.
Vinyl or MP3 versions include the blips and hisses of electronic signals, and that is the final touch to an already intimate feeling record.