Certainly, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM since its inception 5 years ago, you’d be familiar with the Brooklyn-based dance pop/funk Superhuman Happiness. Their long-awaited full-length debut, Hands was one of my favorite albums released last year and as the group started to emerge on the national scene, the collective went through a major lineup change, presumably from both financial and creative necessity. Up until recently, it was an unwritten and unspoken fact — large collectives because of their sheer size, never make enough money to live off their work together. And as a result, the members of the collective find themselves focusing on a variety of side projects and creative pursuits almost to the detriment of the primary project which first won them attention — and at some point either the primary project languishes in a semi-permament limbo or the project continues with a lineup that’s overhauled to some degree.
Over the past year, Superhuman Happiness has gone through a massive lineup change with only the two founding members of the band remaining — Stuart Bogie (vocals, saxophone, synths) and Eric Biondo (vocals, trumpet, synths, percussion). Andrea Diaz (vocals, keyboards, percussion) and Sam Levin (drums, vocals) were recruited as replacements in the reformatted band, and as a quartet, the band has adopted a more synth-based dance pop/prog pop sound — while remaining whimsical and percussive. Now, you may remember that I wrote about “Drawing Lines,” off the band’s recently released sophomore album, Escape Velocity, a song that revealed the band’s radical change in sonic direction with an percussive introduction, followed by twinkling keyboards, wobbling bass, ambient and swirling synths and ethereal vocals with handclaps and horns punctuating the song’s bridge and last third or so to craft a breezy song that seemed to draw influence from The Talking Heads and Afrobeat.
The album’s latest single “Super 8” manages to continue the album’s whimsical and breezy feel but just underneath the whimsy and percussive groove is a song that lyrically explores how technology manages to shape our emotional landscape and our memories, and in the case of “Super 8” the song focuses on how the ease and accessibility of home video recording shapes your memories and how you remember the events of your life. The song suggests that the rose-colored halcyon days you remembered from those home videos you or your family recorded were at best an illusion –nostalgia over something that didn’t really exist and couldn’t get back anyway. (Interestingly, it goes along with something I had stumbled across recently –an ad for a TV show that actually suggested that one’s memories aren’t what they’re cracked up to be; in fact, that they’re just figments of your imagination.)
The recently released official video, produced by the band’s friend and frequent collaborator Tatiana McCabe was crafted from the home videos of a 90 year-old local woman, the home videos of friends, associates and fans who submitted their home videos, home videos from the band and their family members from the 1940s to the early 80s, and footage of the band as adults goofing off. The video manages to goofy and yet emphasizes the song’s dreamy and wistful nostalgia.