El Perro Del Mar “Happiness Won Me Over” (Track Review)

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    The title of this track, from El Perro Del Mar’s forthcoming From the Valley to the Stars, should be news to fans of her previous work. Though always pristinely pretty, Sarah Assbring’s retro ballads have been continually saturated in deep melancholy blue. So, now that she’s been converted to the chipper cause, it’ll be all sunshine and hand claps like her Swedish indie-pop brethren, right? Right? Oh, poor gullible us.

     

    "Happiness Won Me Over," is no cry of jubilant release, but rather a tranquil meditation that’s tailor made for a Sunday mass. Polite organ notes frame a pew-full of lovely female vocals, in what Sarah herself has described as a "psalm." The lyrics diffuse the direct interpretation of the overtly religious sound, prominently including "won’t come to those who pray," among happiness’ operating procedures. As many a love song has suggested, "love is the answer" here. The tone suggests that its arrival will provoke not a fiery passion, but a deep calm. But as ever, there’s something to her voice that implies a sadness beyond her serenity. "Come win me over," she intones at last, putting into question the earlier premise that she was one of the contented few. There’s beauty and light emanating from this track, but even surrounded by a church choir, she sounds almost unbearably alone.