Happy Meals come in with a short-but-sweet slab of cold-wave referencing devotional autumnal hymns with their 2nd release and first for Optimo Music sub-label So Low.

Happy Meals comprises of duo Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook, two Glaswegian locals who first came to prominence for their release “Apero” on Glasgow’s Night School label. Full Ashram Devotional Ceremony, as with that record, touches on various underground musical signatures from the ’80s but, as the name goes some way to suggesting, injects a bit of psychedelica into proceedings – the album is book-ended by lush, constant tones that act almost like aural palette cleansers.

The three show-stoppers here are the middle tracks: May You Be The Mother – May You Be The Sun, Full Ashram Emerging Theme and Every Moment Is a Birth. Both tend towards virtuosic and constantly morphing synth harmonies, the former fusing Jethro Tull-esque jazzy flute melodies with Minimal-wave electronics and a shuffling, glitching drum-machine beat that degrades into washes of tape delay every now and then. It’s a strong statement of intent, and one of the most inventive re-imaginings of this small side-genre of post-punk. Full Ashram Emerging Theme combines the meditative tones of the opener and closer with the neo-psychedelic quality of the rest of the tracks, conjuring something up that sounds somewhere between Joy Division and early Pink Floyd, in the process summing up and symmetrically dividing the music that comes before and after. It’s a clever way of incorporating the Hindu and Buddhist references (Yin & Yang etc.) into the macro-structure of the music while also creating a pleasing listening experience that doesn’t prioritise form over function.

We’re completely smitten with this record – it’s a more mature, individual and developed effort than Happy Meals’ first outing and is a strong signal that they’ll become a regular appearance on this shop!

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