Good electronica uses textured beats to appeal to every one of our senses simultaneously, much in the same way that rock n’ roll provokes an instant reaction through its physical grooving and razor-sharp licks, and for listeners who are looking for a little of both in a new release, you really can’t go wrong with AV Super Sunshine’s “Are You Happy (Radio Mix),” and its gripping psychedelic music video. AV Super Sunshine has been having a whirlwind year since the debut of Candyland, Vol. 1, his full-length anthology of remixes and most recent studio experiments, and in this track, he solidifies his place among the contemporary alternative elite once and for all.
The main focus of our attention in “Are You Happy (Radio Mix)” is its slamming beats, which tell us a story as unique as that of the lively Legos’ in the video for the song. In every occurrence where the synths are assaulting us with everything they’ve got, the percussion is pushing right back at the melody, creating a groove pattern next to the bassline and challenging us to keep up with its agile design. We’re asked to shed all of our cares and worries at the start of the single, and the drums here make it all the harder to refuse the proposition.
AV’s lead vocal is edgy and unvarnished, which helps to emphasize how squeaky clean the synthesized parts of the harmony are. It isn’t easy to craft such electronic tones as to sound and feel organic, but he makes it look fairly simple in “Are You Happy (Radio Mix).” There’s never a point where I feel like I’m consuming something artificial or illegitimately branded as rock in this track; if anything, this sounds like a futuristic take on the same genre that brought the likes of Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix into the spotlight so many decades ago.
This bulky master mix gives “Are You Happy (Radio Mix)” a stadium-shaking energy that really gets me fired up every time I listen to it in the car, and the video’s imagery is similarly effective. Watching it doesn’t particularly make me think of going out to the club or hitting the dancefloor, but it definitely gets me thinking about the subtext of the lyrical content here. Happiness is such a fleeting emotion for much of the population, and as much as we might like to blame the nightly news or the repetitiveness of our day jobs, the fact is that the whole problem, more often than not, starts with us. AV is showing us in “Are You Happy (Radio Mix)” that our happiness is only as limited as our imagination is, which is something that a lot of people really need to hear these days (possibly more than ever before).
I wasn’t aware of AV Super Sunshine before getting turned on to Candyland, Vol. 1 this year, but there’s enough substance to the music video for “Are You Happy (Radio Mix)” to keep me tuned in for more. His rocktronica cocktail is quite possibly the most interesting listen in the latest wave of neo-psychedelic bands to come out of the underground, and it’s one of the only crossover examples that I’ve listened to that hasn’t left me feeling a little underwhelmed in the end.