- Sheffield-based Richard Barratt now operates solo as Crooked Man, the latest move in a career that's been going since the early '90s and has included the collaborative Sweet Exorcist project with Cabaret Voltaire's Richard H. Kirk and early releases on Warp. Since 2012, he's self-released a trio of EPs, before teaming with Optimo for his Undigitize EP in 2014. The two tracks on Happiness are his debut for New York institution DFA.
In the record's press release, Barrat explicitly states that these tracks are about nostalgia—considering that and his previous work, it makes sense that "Happiness (dna 1)" fits well as bleep and acid house. Nostalgia might also explain the whiff of Prince here: there's something both charming and off-putting in the quasi-'80s funk stiffness. Along with the disco flair of "Happiness (dna 5)," both tracks clearly nod to the past, not only in their reference points but also in the vocal mantra, "Take me back to happiness."
If "dna 1" is intriguing but awkward, "dna 5" has the mellow confidence of a veteran dancer completely at ease on the floor. The piano line evokes just enough yearning, and the track unfolds beautifully, with a rippling arpeggiation adding a touch of modernity amidst the classicism. The only dubious aspect of Happiness is the idea that happiness, especially of the musical variety, lies in the past. At least, Barratt can help us understand that feeling by revisiting the happiness of his past.
01. Happiness (dna 1)
02. Happiness (dna 5)