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Pre-Listen «Desperate Art», the Debut EP by Swiss Duo Happy For Real

Switzerland's Happy For Real deliver their debut EP, «Desperate Art», on 1st March. We exclusively host a pre-listening of the record that conjures the best of indie rock and pop.

Olivia Virgolin and Marcus Petendi are Happy For Real
Olivia Virgolin and Marcus Petendi are Happy For Real. Photo: Jen Ries

We should not be fooled by the title: Desperate Art, the debut EP by Switzerland's duo Happy For Real, is anything but depressing or desperate, at first sight at least.

The collection of five new songs, recorded in Wales, will be released on 1st March but celebrates an exclusive pre-listening premiere with Negative White.

Olivia Virgolin and Marcus Petendi, after a couple of single releases, reinvented themselves musically. On the surface, the songs on Desperate Art are driven by polished pop melodies. But the duo scratches into the shiny veneer with dominant guitars, conjuring the grand days of indie rock.

The more you listen to the EP, the more the underlying edge and sophistication appear—the pop fades to a mere vehicle to deliver addictive hooks, but in its place, the extravagant contrasts take the spotlight. The sound evokes a feeling of ambivalence, of action and lethargy.

Photo: Jen Ries

Desperate Art starts with Limbo, waiting with an intricate, almost complex rhythm. It takes a while to acclimate. Then, with Phony, Happy For Real dive deep into the indie territory—and the back and forth between the voices of Virgolin and Petendi becomes exceptionally impactful.

The voices' interaction is the EP's and Happy For Real's best feature: Virgolin indulges in emotional sensitivity and tender thoughtfulness, while Petendi channels sinewy energy, pulling the compositions into a borderline pop-punkish sphere.

ATRT is the EP's roughest track, even further down the indie rock rabbit hole—full of longing, pushing for the horizon beyond. News, then, is a groovy closure to Desperate Art.

However, the crown jewel is spot-on in the middle: Limerence. There is a sense of nostalgia, even melancholia, slumbering between the drifting lines. But then, there is also the undeniably danceable sound. The song feels like a time travel back to the summer of 2005—surfing on indie rock high tide and coming-of-age insecurities. «It's okay to feel lost sometimes!»

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