COEM - Happiness etc.

COEM - Happiness etc.

11 songs
42:56 minutes
***** ****
Decoder / Evil Penguin

Bandpage

First impressions can be misleading. COEM (which stands for Coin Operated Entertainment Machine) play a kind of undistorted but not mellow indie rock with an angularity that makes it not too accessible at first. Coming from Belgium, they have of course that sound that is so typical for our neighbours in the West. The five minute long opener Through Tired Eyes is a perfect example that shows that two guitars can do more than just noise. The song has a rather relaxed atmosphere, but the guitars sound very playful, reminding me at times of Television's Marquee Moon. That comparison works also with most of the remaining songs, although COEM keep their own identity. Postcards, the second song on the band's already third album, is carried by the vocalist's narrative vocals, but whenever he takes a break, it's the guitar that take over, spinning something like an Asian melody. Hands Off (My Melody) combines their angular sound with a blues rhythm, letting COEM achieve something like commercial charm. C'mon is a harder rock (but not hard rock) song, to be followed by the sad ballad Ghosts Outside, something of a letdown after the weirder preceding songs. Back to form with Count Your Blessings, although The Hiding and The Invitation are merely good songs without the great inspiration of the CD's starting tracks. The album ends with two final highlights. Been Mistaken shows the band from a jazzy side with a fat horn section. Somehow that song reminds me of their fellow countryman Arno. The closing Everybody Knows Nobody Knows What Happiness Is is an instrumental goodbye, very sweet and melancholic, and a nice way to end Happiness etc. I am not familiar with COEM's early albums, but Happiness etc. is another great album from a Belgian band, undermining the theory that Belgium has the highest number of good bands per capita.

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