Connecticut experimental rockers Have a Nice Life’s 2014 sophomore release, The Unnatural World, is an existential concept album that explores the sonically tenebrous edges that tie our lives to feeling and consciousness. The duo, composed of Dan Barrett (of Giles Corey, In Pieces) and Tim Macugan (of Nahvalr), have amassed a considerable cult following through Enemies List Recordings, a homegrown indie label co-founded by Barrett himself. To this effect, previous Giles Corey releases, as well as Have a Nice Life’s debut album Deathconsciousness, have functioned as catalysts of sorts, drawing an audience to anticipate the label’s most engaging, compelling and mature release thus far with The Unnatural World.
The disconcertingly thetic debut Deathconsciousness LP offered a melding of gothic, shoegaze and post-punk, notably utilizing elements of drone, ambient, synth and gloomy acoustics. While the predecessor to The Unnatural World was an epic Inferno-esque feat of daunting and difficultly-digestible proportions, Have a Nice Life’s latest album is respectably focused and clocks in at 47 minutes, almost 40 minutes less than Deathconsciousness.
Lyrically, The Unnatural World is shrouded in a gothic lore that compliments the muddied but textured sonic dissonance that reigns almost unwaveringly throughout this record. On the track “Cropsey”, through Pennhurst Asylum audio samples, we meet Johnny, a child patient following experimental behavioural therapy. An eerie organ drones over chilling xylophone intervals, austere drumming sets a marching pace, but they all give way to metallic, harrowing percussion, distorted, thunderous bass and lo-fi vocals. These same industrial textures perfuse both the fast-paced punk rock and ambient spectra of this record.
The Unnatural World lends itself to the examination of the dark furrows and doubts of minds in a dangerous and oblique manner and does so with uncompromising weight and dourness.
Favourite tracks: “Cropsey”, “Defenestration Song”