GOON: HAPPY OMEN
Goon’s Kenny Becker isn’t afraid of his influences. The L.A. singer/guitarist’s debut EP Dusk of Punk was a snapshot of bristly teeth-gritting power-chord pop: “We sound like Nirvana post-Pat Smear now”, he stated at the time, and after hearing bangers like “Dizzy” and “Merchant Hall”, you’d be hard-pressed to disagree. But in the same interview, he namechecked acts like Boards of Canada and Radiohead, which—surprisingly enough—foreshadowed just where Becker & co. were headed in 2017. Released just before Halloween with an orange-hued cover, Happy Omen is, ironically, Goon’s softest and strangest work to date, like an earnestly carved pumpkin wilted after too long in the sun. Lead single “Chaka” is immediately cleaner, bolder, and more patient than anything they’ve done to date, Becker and Drew Eccleston’s chiming guitar work brings to mind their cover of R.E.M.’s “Let Me In.” It’s a nice treat, but the real tricks start when the band dissolves into backwards tape and, eventually, post-rock bliss, with 12-string arpeggios cascading around Becker’s reverbed crooning. Their palette expands from there: “A Window Outside” is a dead ringer for vintage Four Tet, with a hissing drum machine, found-sound percussion, sub bass and marimba, while “Push Me” draws (as promised) on Boards of Canada, pressurizing their arctic ambience into a bedroom-floor loop jam. Happy Omen started out as a series of demos intended as part of an LP, but a burst of experimental re-recordings resulted in a “common feeling” amongst the tunes—a “melancholy, longing, introspective vibe”. So far, Goon are two for two on crafting extraordinary, individual worlds, but their EPs’ shared hallmarks—earworm hooks, heartbroken lyrics, and charmingly homespun production—make up a universe that’s distinctly theirs.