The trio that makes up unhappybirthday come from Wismar, a small and very old city in Germany that has almost always been small. If you’re like me, you might know the town from its contribution to the formation of the Hanseatic League, an important thirteenth century trade federation and mutual defense pact formed by several important Northern European commercial cities. Wismar is a much simpler place today and as the band tells it, rather isolated and contended with its slow pace while they were growing up. A single record store in the city made that unchanging tableau a little more dynamic, connecting them with bands like the Raincoats, Young Marble Giants, and Units; ultimately inspiring them to make their own music, taking a synth heavy approach to “Neue Deutsche Welle” – or, literally translated, new German-wave. Their debut album Sirup is a collection of songs written since the band resolved to make it their own way, renting a house together and making music nonstop. By their own description, these songs are “sometimes washed out like a raindy or sticky like chewing gum”, but never without a “pretty melancholic root to howl”. “Molly” is a sad prom-night-song about undefined yearning, while “Kalt” is more bleak, with cold synth tones stabbing, freezing the listener’s heart. These songs are direct and purposely catchy, but intimate – they seethe, too restrained for anything but a slow burn, regardless of tempo. Together, unhappybirthday is shaping a new reality for themselves and we can hope that the success of Sirup might inspire a happy occasion for them next year.
Preorder Sirup on limited edition cassette and stream it on our bandcamp. We’ll be premiering some new tracks over the next couple weeks, but for now he’s our recent video for “Pyramiden”, the second track from the new album.